There is a clear and undisputed risk of democratic backsliding throughout Europe. The urgency to make European democracy more resilient, impactful, and accessible cannot be overstated. While a number of steps have been taken to engage citizens in the EU, existing participation mechanisms and instruments need to be reinforced.

European democracy can only gain real strength through inclusive, omnipresent and qualitative citizen participation. The Conference on the Future of Europe laid the groundwork for a citizens-centered reform of the EU, but fundamental democratic reforms must persist if the EU is to meet the needs and challenges of today.

EU citizens: write to your candidates to urge them to pledge for democracy.

Sign the pledge

I pledge to…

  • empower the European Parliament to be an advocate for citizen participation processes supported inter-institutionally, engaging parliaments of the Member States where needed.
  • advocate to strengthen the existing democratic instruments the EU has to engage its citizens, such as the European Citizens’ Initiative and the European Citizens’ Panels, to give them a greater political impact on EU policy-making
  • give the European Parliament a leading role as a standard bearer for the use of strong international quality standards and sufficient resources for citizen participation processes
  • support the establishment of the first-ever parliamentary intergroup on European democracy for the 2024-2029 mandate, recognizing its role as a platform for collaborative dialogue and addressing the aforementioned proposals

    By signing this pledge, I commit to taking a leadership role in the democratic reform of the EU, actively working towards a more responsive, inclusive, and citizen-centred European democracy.

    Candidates who have signed the pledge

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    Frequently asked questions

    1. What Is The Democratic Wave?

    For a Democratic Wave is a campaign in the runup to the 2024 European Parliamentary elections initiated by Democracy International and Federation for Innovation in Democracy – Europe (FIDE). FIDE specializes in implementing deliberative democratic methods, particularly Citizens’ Assemblies, to deeply involve citizens in policymaking and assists in all stages of the process, from planning to evaluation, to ensure informed, inclusive, and effective citizen engagement in shaping policy solutions. Democracy International is an NGO supporting democratic initiatives, activists, and policymakers worldwide by providing expertise and promoting transnational direct and participatory democracy to empower citizens and enhance accountability in political decision-making processes.

    2. What do we want to achieve

    We aim to empower citizens and enhance their influence over the future of Europe. To achieve this, we advocate for involving citizens in a credible and proactive manner to strengthen and improve democratic participation within the European Union. This is why we propose the strengthening of democratic instruments and mechanisms, inter alia, randomly selected citizens’ assemblies focused on shaping the democratic future of Europe and bottom-up direct democracy instruments.

    3. Why do we want stronger citizen's participation in the European Union?

    The European Union can only survive and be a source of peace, justice, and prosperity on our planet if citizens take full ownership of it. Citizens can only develop this sense of ownership if they are given a hand and a say in shaping the future of the European project. Additionally, citizen participation cannot remain limited to specific policy areas, but must concern the very democratic structure and functioning of the European Union, as this provides the foundation and operational framework for all other political activities of and within the European Union.

    4. Why do we address candidate Members of the European Parliament?

    The European Parliament is the world’s first and only directly elected supranational institution, which gives it a special responsibility. Even if the European Parliament does not have the formal competence to enforce a fundamental democratic reform on its own, it has the democratic legitimacy and the political duty to lead the way in advocating for a credible democratic reform process and better implementation of democratic tools and mechanisms.

    5. Why now?

    The European Union is at a pivotal moment, shaped by recent challenges and key events like the 2019 elections and the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE). To counter growing anti-democratic forces, we must seize upon CoFoE’s momentum to deepen citizen engagement in EU decision-making and fortify our democratic foundations. Strengthening EU democracy is essential to safeguarding our values of inclusivity and transparency against internal and external threats.

    6. Why do we call for a stronger European Citizens’ Initiative?

    The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) stands as the world’s first and only instrument of transnational participatory democracy. We call for a stronger ECI because it serves as the only bottom-up mechanism of participatory democracy in the EU. Despite a surge of successful initiatives, the political impact of ECIs unfortunately remains limited. To truly empower citizens and elevate their concerns to the EU level, a stronger ECI with enhanced political impact is imperative, ensuring citizens have a genuine opportunity to shape EU policies and decisions.

    7. How do we want the European Citizens’ Initiative to develop?

    A proposal to convene a new EU Convention during the 2024-2029 EP mandate aims to amend EU treaties and strengthen EU democracy, including, for example introducing EU-wide referendums. This transformation could elevate the ECI into a genuine citizens’ right of initiative with the possibility to allow all citizens of the EU to have a say on the matter.

    8. How do we want European Citizens’ Panels to be followed upon?

    In order for this process to have credibility and for citizens to feel taken seriously, citizens’ recommendations need to be promptly and publicly discussed and responded to by all relevant political actors, including by means of a debate and vote in the plenary of the European Parliament. The Europe-wide debate should be followed by concrete legislative proposals, including, if deemed necessary, a proposal for Treaty change involving a new European Convention (Article 48 TEU). 

    9. Why do we call for an intergroup on the future of European democracy?

    A citizen-led democratic reform of the European Union is not accomplished overnight. Given the pressing and urgent threats posed by the projected right-wing shift in the 2024 European Parliament elections, it demands an immediate and strategic approach with active involvement and support from all EU institutions and civil society. The anticipated ‘sharp right turn’ across member states, with populist radical right parties poised to gain significant votes and seats while centrist and progressive parties face losses, presents a critical challenge to the democratic integrity and policymaking capacity of the EU. This political shift threatens to undermine key European values and could lead to the emergence of a populist right coalition within the European Parliament, potentially obstructing progressive policies on crucial issues like climate change and foreign relations. While European Parliament intergroups have no formal competences, they allow for ‘coalitions of the willing’ to emerge around specific themes, connecting interested and committed Members of the European Parliament with relevant stakeholders. An intergroup on the future of European democracy could take the lead in designing a roadmap for the democratic reform of the European Union, exploring the above-mentioned proposals in detail in close collaboration with relevant experts and civil society stakeholders. The roadmap should be adopted by the European Parliament as a whole and be forwarded to the other EU institutions for further dialogue and implementation.

    Disclaimer:

    Art.2 Treaty on European Union: The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail. We reserve the right to cancel a candidate profile if we are informed of any past or present discriminatory statement.