Trainer in front of the monitor, a participant is to see at the monitor

Strengthening European democracy at grassroots level: More competences for citizen participation

What do Zagreb (Croatia), Brussels (Belgium), Madrid (Spain), the Gemeente Middelburg (Netherlands), Roskovec (Albania) and Budapest (Hungary) have in common? They all want to strengthen the involvement of their citizens in political decisions about Europe. On June 16 and 23 2023, the Bertelsmann Foundation and the Committee of the Regions, together with more than 60 regions and cities from all over Europe, launched the first modules of their joint initiative 'A new chapter for participatory democracy'. The goal: capacity building on methods of citizen participation and competencies for quality implementation. 

Contact Person

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


How can we adapt to climate change? How can we avoid food waste? How will the mobility of the future look like? Major transformation processes can only succeed with the commitment of a large majority of European citizens. Innovative ideas for overcoming crises and upheavals are developed locally. The active political participation of European citizens is important when it comes to European policy-making.

Digital training: great need for capacity building for citizen participation

But how does citizen participation work? Know-how was imparted in two digital events. Practical trainings with more than 100 European actors from politics, administration and civil society, focused on quality principles of citizen participation, in addition to concrete, simple, and digital methods.

  • Inclusivity - citizens from all walks of life participate.
  • Deliberation - all citizens have their say, structured discussions in small groups lead to joint proposals.
  • Effectiveness - administration and politics are involved, implementation processes are ensured.

Good citizen participation: that is easier said than done.

Stefan Sindelare, European Capital of Democracy

Tailor made format: practice-oriented training

The training courses are designed for the specific target group of local initiators. They focus on teaching concrete methods ranging from participatory budgeting to digital platforms for citizen participation and classic citizens' assemblies. They give participants the opportunity to develop their own projects, to critically assess them and to learn from experts as well as from other participants, regardless of whether the projecs are local, regional, cross-border or transnational.

Spreading good citizen participation in a sustainable way

and how to apply them in their own projects. They learn deliberative methods and processes that are simple, require few resources and can be used repeatedely with adjustments. This improves the quality of citizen participation in their region and creates opportunities for more citizens to participate in political processes.

Picture gallery

About the initiative: Capacity building for European municipalities, cities and regions

Building on the 2021 project From local to European and in the run-up to the 2024 European elections, the European Committee of the Regions and the Bertelsmann Foundation have launched a new initiative on Participatory Democracy: A New Chapter of Participatory Democracy.  The initiative aims to provide regions, municipalities and cities with the skills they need on the ground to carry out good citizen participation. With concrete assistance, the initiative contributes to bringing good citizen participation to the field.