Gruppenbild mit Zertifikaten

A breath of fresh air for European politics: How young European politicians are becoming participation professionals

Actively involving citizens in European politics - that was the common goal of over 30 politicians from 25 European countries at our Winter School "Becoming a Participation Professional".  

Newly elected mayors from Ukraine, Italy or Slovenia, presidents of local parliaments from Portugal, Latvia, Austria, members of national and local parliaments from Cyprus, Bulgaria, Serbia, France, Luxembourg - they all took part in the three-day Winter School from 14 to 16 February 2024 in Brussels and learned new methods of citizen participation. 

Contact Persons

Anna Renkamp
Senior Project Manager
Foto Christian Huesmann
Dr. Christian Huesmann
Senior Project Manager


Revitalising politics: More citizen participation for more trust in Europe

The Winter School Training "Becoming a Participation Professional" is part of the democracy programme "Young Elected Politicians YEP" for young politicians from Europe. The centrepiece of the training was learning and practising different participation methods. These can be used to directly involve citizens at local and regional level. There is a wide range to choose from: whether in the fish-bowl format, a method to actively and directly involve citizens in discussions at events, or in the World Café, in which citizens can develop ideas for politics in a targeted and condensed manner, the participants tried out the methods in a practical way. Another highlight was the simulation of a specific participation process. The participants took on the roles of various stakeholders or citizen groups in order to jointly develop a roadmap for more citizen participation. 

This is a great opportunity to exchange with young representatives of the YEP programme and to hear their ideas about the challenges we face and the future of our communities. To build trust, we need engagement and honesty with citizens. All of us have a huge responsibility in this.

Vasco Cordeiro, president European Committee of the Regions

Planning specific projects for practical use

"In times of misinformation and disinformation, direct dialogue with citizens is particularly important," said Vasco Cordeiro, President of the European Committee of the Regions. Therefore, in addition to trying out participation methods, the participants also developed their own projects for their municipality, city or region, which they want to implement together with citizens. From cross-party election appeals to information campaigns or specific infrastructure projects: participants take their ideas and newly learnt methods straight home with them. 

The Winter School gave us concrete tools that we can implement directly in our daily work.

Diana Mardarovici, participant of the Winter School

Politicians become participation professionals and multipliers for citizen-centred politics

At the end of the Winter School, the participants were awarded a certificate as participation professionals. At least as important, however, is the momentum gained from the joint work and the deeper realisation that Europe means finding common solutions to common problems. After the Winter School, the participants not only continue to act as participation professionals in their municipalities and regions, but also as multipliers for citizen-centred politics in Europe. 

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About the initiative: A new chapter for participatory democracy

In the run-up to the 2024 European elections, the European Committee of the Regions and the Bertelsmann Stiftung have launched a new initiative. The aim is to promote citizen participation with modern and innovative concepts, especially on EU-relevant topics such as energy, climate and health. The initiative supports regional and local politicians in developing expertise for the implementation of citizen participation projects. Special attention is paid to the young generation of politicians, to whom the "Becoming a Participation Professional" program is aimed. 

Once again, the European Committee of the Regions is organising the 10th European Summit of Regions and Cities on 18 and 19 March 2024 in Mons, Belgium. Organised by the European Committee of the Regions together with the Walloon Region and the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the summit will provide a new perspective on issues close to people's hearts, such as democracy and the need to ensure social, economic and territorial cohesion.