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News announcement7 December 20203 min read

Commission engages citizens to safeguard our democracies in COVID times and beyond

This year’s festival has a special focus on nurturing co-creative policymaking to build a better Europe during and after the coronavirus pandemic

Registration is still open for the week-long event
Registration is still open for the week-long event
© EU 2020

This week, the JRC hosts the third annual Citizen Engagement and Deliberative Democracy Festival, which this year has a special focus on nurturing co-creative policymaking to build a better Europe during and after the coronavirus pandemic.

The week-long Festival brings politicians and practitioners together to discuss strengthening the links between citizens, EU institutions and policy to safeguard our democracies. It will showcase on-the-ground citizen engagement activities by civil society organisations, researchers, policymakers, citizens and artists.

The Festival was opened this morning by Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, responsible for the Joint Research Centre, Mariya Gabriel. It will explore questions like:

  • How can we maximise citizen engagement during and after the pandemic crisis?
  • How can we ensure that physical distance does not prevent the public from engaging, co-creating or deliberating on policies that affect them?
  • How can we make the best use of online tools?

Registration is open for the week-long online event, and everyone is invited to attend. The Festival brings together people of diverse backgrounds that are interested in, and working on, citizen engagement and deliberative democracy within and outside Europe.

The programme for the week: showcasing existing initiatives and hearing from citizens

Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, will be there tomorrow morning to have a conversation on the future of deliberative democracy in the EU. Vice-President for Democracy and Demography, Dubravka Šuica, will deliver an address on Wednesday morning about the Conference on the Future of Europe.

At a citizen’s roundtable tomorrow afternoon, representatives from civil society will talk about their experiences in various citizen engagement projects and present the Commission with recommendations on how to strengthen these activities going forward.

The Festival will also be an opportunity to showcase and learn about ongoing citizen engagement run by the Commission. The full agenda is available on the event page.

This will include the Conference on the Future of Europe – where the Commission, together with the European Parliament and European Council, will lead a large-scale endeavour to engage citizens in a debate on Europe’s future in the coming decade and beyond.

The Festival makes the case for greater public participation in policy-making and science. Other initiatives that will be discussed include:

  • The Horizon Europe Missions, where citizens of different EU countries are helping to co-design and implement solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing our world;
  • Citizen engagement strategies to put participation in EU cohesion policy into practice;
  • Engaging citizens in urban green infrastructure in different EU cities.

Through the discussions, the Festival will address the challenges and opportunities of participatory governance, giving a platform to critical debate, reflection and mutual learning.

Participants will also be able to see live artwork and a video exhibition of citizen engagement projects.


The coronavirus pandemic has made citizen engagement in policymaking ever more pertinent. The volatility of evidence and uncertainty of today and tomorrow’s realities requires all citizens to share not only relevant knowledge but also responsibility on the governance of the current crises.

The annual Citizen Engagement and Deliberative Democracy Festival contributes to public and policy discussions on the future of democracy and how to implement more participatory practices in EU policymaking. It feeds into the Commission’s priority for a new push for European democracy to strengthen the links between people, nations and institutions in Europe. It also coincides with the adoption of the European Democracy Action Plan in 2020.

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Follow the third annual Citizen Engagement and Deliberative Democracy Festival online

European Democracy Action Plan


Publication date
7 December 2020