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Event in Ljubljana, Slovenia on European Democracy

6th Citizens' Panel in Ljubljana

Parliament for the Future of Europe

Ljubljana, Slovenia – 14 March 2024

The Parliament for the Future of Europe is our take on the Conference for the Future of Europe. Our aim is to bring together a diverse group of people from marginalized and underrepresented groups to the center of the debate. With six partners we bring participants all across Europe to discuss and scrutinize the proposals of the historic Conference on the Future of Europe and reshape them to be more inclusive and meet the needs of vulnerable communities. Our 6th and last Citizen Panel was organized by the Peace Institute in Ljubljana, Slovenia on 14 March 2024 where zoomed in on the topic of EU Democracy. Photos and videos from the event can be found here.

The Conference recommendations on European Democracy begin on page 79 and served as the basis for the discussions.

For questions, please contact our project manager, Daniela Vancic,

For questions regarding this specific event, please contact Tjaša Turnšek, who will also serve as Awareness Representative, at

The new proposals are as follows:


36. Proposal: Citizens information, participation and youth

Objective: Increase youth involvement and citizens’ participation (of different genders and ethnicities) in the democracy at the European Union level to develop a ‘full civic experience’ for Europeans, ensure that their voice is heard also in between elections, and that the participation is effective. That is why the most appropriate form of participation should be considered for each topic, for example by:

1.    Improving the effectiveness of existing and developing new citizens' participation mechanisms, in line with EU acquis, by better informing on them. Ideally, all the information about the participatory spaces should be summarized in an integrated official website with different features (referring to Measure 3) and also by offline means. A mechanism should be devised to monitor policy and legislative initiatives, which have emerged from participatory democracy processes; Participatory mechanisms should be inclusive and their communication able to reach a diverse public. Attention should be paid to content material, topics and moderators’ skills. They must include an analysis on the impact of the policies discussed on, inter alia, women and vulnerable persons.

2.    Increasing the frequency of online and offline interactions between EU institutions and its citizens through different means of interaction in order to ensure that citizens can participate in the EU policy-making process to voice their opinions and to get feedback, and creating a charter for EU officials on citizens’ participation;

3.    Offering a user-friendly digital platform where citizens can share ideas, put forward questions to the representatives of EU institutions and express their views on important EU matters and legislative proposals, in particular youth. The platform should also allow for online polls, some of which should be periodic with the same question as to see the community trends over time. There should also be provided an offline alternative for this digital platform.

4.    Improving and streamlining existing mechanisms at the European, national, and local level, to make them more secure, accessible, visible and inclusive;

5.    Include organised civil society, regional and local authorities and existing structures such as the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Committee of the Regions (CoR) in the citizens’ participation process;

6.    Improving the existing system of local Member State Councillors (number depending on the population of the country) and increasing accessibility by creating new ways to reduce the distance between the EU institutions and European citizens;

7.    Holding Citizens’ assemblies periodically, on the basis of legally binding EU law. Participants must be selected randomly, with representativeness criteria, and participation should be incentivized, but not mandatory. If needed, there will be support of experts so that assembly members have enough information for deliberation. If the outcomes are not taken on board by the institutions, this should be duly justified and the decision should be futher discused with citizens assemblies in an expected period of time; Participation and prior involvement of citizens and civil society, focused on minority groups, is an important basis for political decisions to be taken by elected representatives;

8.    Provide enhanced structural, financial support, which is mostly based on regular activity funding, and other support for civil society, especially for youth civil society and support for local authorities in setting up local youth councils; this could be achieved through a specific pillar in the European Democracy Action Plan for involvement of civil society and social partners, and a dedicated civil society strategy;

9.    Introduce a “Youth-check” of legislation, including both an impact assessment and a consultation mechanism with representatives of young people, based on certain criteria.The criteria should include every age range, social economic status, education, dissability, gender mainstreaming ect. Representatives of young people should consider when legislation is deemed to have an impact on young people;

10. Strengthening cooperation between EU, local, regional legislators and civil society organisations to utilise the link between decision-makers and citizens which civil society organisations constitute;

11. Summarize elements of citizens’ participation in an EU Charter of Fundamental Rights for the involvement of citizens in EU-affairs.


37. Proposal: Citizens information, participation and youth (bis)

Objective: Make the European Union more understandable and accessible and strengthen a common European identity, based on shared values of solidarity, equality and indivisibly human right protection in particular by:

1.    Guaranteeing a minimum level of education on the EU and especially its democratic processes, including the history of European integration and European citizenship. People of all ages should be able to benefit from such programmes, which should be designed in an engaging and age appropriate manner, for instance through the development of specific programmes and educational material for children and schools, emphasizing the importance of adding the EU-related topics to curricual of national history throughout whole educational process; and civil society organisations active in the field of non-formal education;

2.    Making reliable information on the EU easily accessible in an inclusive manner to all citizens. EU institutions should use more accessible language and avoid using bureaucratic terms in their communication, while at the same time maintaining the quality and expertise of the given information and adapting the information to different communication channels and audience profiles. It should consider, for instance, creating a mobile application or accesible website where information concerning EU policies is presented in a clear language, accompanied by definitions from EU dictionary, which we urge to establish in order to simplify and translate beurocratic terms to the general public. A special effort should be made to reach out to young people through digital media, youth movements and various ‘ambassadors’ (organisations and individuals) explaining the EU project;

3.    Making a greater use of accurate and reliable translation technologies, that could also be powerd by artificial inteligence which would be provided and controlled by EU, to circumvent language barriers, ensuring the accessibility and usability of all the digital tools for all people, including people with disabilities;

4.    Defending and supporting free, pluralistic and independent media, and encouraging media outlets, including public broadcasters and public news agencies and European media, to cover European affairs more regularly by providing communication methods adapted to different age groups, while respecting their freedom and independence, to ensure regular and comprehensive coverage across the EU Member States;

5.    Stepping up the fight against disinformation and foreign interferences, and ensure the protection of journalists;

6.    Bringing Europe closer to citizens by improving contact points and dedicated hubs, or “Houses of Europe”, at local level to provide resources, information and advice to citizens on EU matters in an engaging manner, as well as listen to their concerns and engage in debates with associations to help spread citizens’ views at European level; it should also organize educational events in order to reach out to citizens to increase their permanent participation and increase their interes in EU matters;

7.    Taking further steps to strengthen common identity among Europeans, for instance through an EU fund for supporting online and offline interactions (i.e. exchanges programmes, panels, meetings) of both short and longer duration between EU citizens, creating common sports events and teams, or making Europe Day (9 May) an additional European public holiday serving to ensure the inspiraring and celebration of common European identity.


38. Proposal: Democracy and elections

Objective: Strengthen European democracy by bolstering its foundations, boosting participation in European Parliament elections, fostering transnational debate on European issues and ensuring a strong link between citizens and their elected representatives, in particular by:

1.    Ensuring the protection of EU values laid down in the treaties, including the rule of law and a strong social model, which are at the core of the European democracy. In its relationship with external countries, the European Union should firstly strengthen common democratic values in its borders and apply stricker rules for countries that do not uphold the EU values. Only after achieving this, the European Union can be an ambassador of our democratic model in the countries that are ready and willing to implement it, through diplomacy and dialogue;

2.    Conceiving a EU wide referendum, to be triggered by the European Parliament, in exceptional cases on matters particularly important to all European citizens; Basic human rights cannot be the subject of the referendum. The size of countries should be taken in account in order to not have overrepresentation of voices from countries with bigger power in the EU.

3.    Amending EU electoral law to harmonise electoral conditions (voting age, election date – try to connect it with the Day of Europe, use the advantage of the events and discussion about the topics, requirements for electoral districts, candidates, political parties and their financing) for the European Parliament elections, as well as moving towards voting for Union-wide lists, or ‘transnational lists’, with candidates from multiple Member States, having taken into account the views expressed among citizens across the EU Member States on this issue.

- Some of the Members of the European Parliament should be elected through a European Union-wide list, the rest being elected within the Members’ States; (the ratio should be quantified and also ways to avoid overrepresentation of candidates from large states should be developed by the experts on voting processes)

- This reform should also aim at facilitating digital voting possibilities and guaranteeing effective voting rights for persons with disabilities,

4.    Strengthening links between citizens and their elected representatives, taking into account national specificities and citizens’ desire to be closer to them and have a feeling that their concerns lead to specific action by elected representatives in the European Parliament and national parliaments. This is a universal issue and people of all ages should be engaged;

- European citizens should have a greater say on who is elected as President of the Commission. This could be achieved by a lead candidate system;

- The European Parliament should have the right of legislative initiative, in order to propose the topics to be discussed and, subsequently, adopt the necessary texts to follow up on the recommendations that emerge from deliberations;

- European Parliament shoudl decide on the budget of the EU with input from social partners such as trade unions;

- Other invitiatives, like the European Citizen's Inititatives should be better promoted to raise awareness about such possibilities but also the process of choosing such initiatives should be fully transparent in order to avoid politicians to have influence over the measures that are proposed;

- Political parties, civil society organisations, trade unions should be more lively and accessible in order for citizens to be more involved and engaged in European democracy. This would also contribute to stimulate the inclusion of EU topics in public debates via political parties, organised civil society and social partners, not only during European elections but ahead of national, regional and local elections as well;

5.    Ensure the gender parity (50/50) of candidates' lists of all parties part of the EP elections, use the zipper system to ensure that women are not at the end of the list but alternating with men. Women should also have the equal opportunity to present themselves during public events part of the pre-election campaign.


39. Proposal: Participatory EU decision making porcess

Objective: Improve the EU’s decision-making process in order to ensure the EU’s capability to act, while taking into account the interests of all Member States and guaranteeing a transparent, understandable and participatory process for the citizens, in particular by:

1.    Reassessing decision-making and voting rules in the EU institutions, focusing on the issue of unanimous voting, which makes it very difficult to reach agreement, while ensuring a fair calculation of voting 'weights' so that small countries' interests are protected;

§  The norm is qualitifed majority voting. In exceptional cases, the veto right can be used, but if used, the MS must present its case in detail to the EU. Then the topic goes back to the European Parliament to be discussed. Finally, the topic goes back to the MSs who have another vote. The same MS cannot veto it again on the same grounds. When a veto is triggered by a MS, national consultations with citizens have to take place on the topic, followed by a debate and decision in the national parliament. If passed by 2/3 in the national parliament, the veto of the MS can be overriden.

2.    Ensuring transparency of decision-making by allowing independent citizens’ observers to closely follow the decision-making process, guaranteeing broader right of access to documents, and develop on this basis stronger links and an enhanced dialogue between citizens and the EU institutions;

- The EU needs to improve the transparency and participation of its decision-making process and institutions. For instance, the meetings of the Council and the European Parliament, including its votes, should be broadcasted online in the same way. This would allow interested citizens to follow EU policy-making, and hold politicians and policy-makers accountable;the European Parliament’s right of inquiry should be strengthened; The role of lobbying in EU decision-making must be made more transparent, e.g. introducign a mandatory EU Lobby Register.

- EU decision-making process should be further developed so that national, regional, local representatives, social partners and organised civil society are more involved. Inter-parliamentary cooperation and dialogue should be strengthened. National parliaments should also be closer involved in the legislative procedure by the European Parliament, e .g . by way of invitation to be an observer in EP hearings and given speaking time on the floor. In addition, a better involvement of the subnational level and of the Committee of the Regions helps to take better into account the experiences gained with the implementation of EU law. Representatives of CoR from the MS should communicate its work to citizens.

3.    Clarify the names of EU institutions to eliminate confusion, clarify their functions and respective role in the EU decision-making process for citizens;

- The EU decision making process should be based on a clearer and more understandable structure, resembling national systems, explicitly reflecting the division of competences between the European institutions and the Member States;

- Strengthen educatation of the role of each institution to citizens.

4.    Ensure proper civil and social dialogue mechanisms and processes at every step of the EU decision-making process, from impact assessment to policy design and implementation. Ensure and strengthen gender maninstreaming in each phase of the policy-making cycle as recommended by the European Insititue of Gender Equality.

- Strengthen the political impact of existing participatory mechanisms such as the European Citizens' Initiative and the European Citizens' Panel, who should see a quota (e.g. 40%) of its outcomes make its way into the EU policy making process.

5.    Reform the way the European Union works by better involving and better funding of social partners and organised civil society. Strengthening the existing structures in order to better reflect the needs and expectations of EU citizens in the decision-making process, given their importance in the European democratic life. Within this framework, enhance the institutional role of the EESC and empower it as facilitator and guarantor of participatory democracy activities like structured dialogue with civil society organisations and Citizens’ panels. A lively civil society is crucial for the democratic life of the European Union.

6.    Reopening the discussion about the constitution, where applicable, to help us align better on our values. A constitution may help to be more precise as well as involve citizens and agree on the rules of the decision-making process; Collect feedback and introduce a review phase on the EU Treaty/Constitution on a regular basis and make it accessible and easy to communicate. Introduce a simplified amendment process for EU Treaty change. To recognize EU citienship, the citizens must be empowered in the constitutional questions. The CoFoE should serve as a model for a future Constitional Convention, where citizens are integrally involved. The Convention should be transparent and broadcast, like aforementioned proposals. National debates and activities involving citizens should ensure before and during the EU Convention process.

7.    Increase accessbiiltly in citizens' participation, e.g. introducing EU-wide e-voting, using digital tools and offering support for underrepresented and marginalized groups.


40. Proposal: Subsidiarity

Objective: Active subsidiarity and multilevel governance must be key principles and fundamental features for the EU functioning and democratic accountability. This must be ensured by:


1.    Systematic use of a subsidiarity definition, which considers the autonomy of member states in the decision making processes at EU level, commonly agreed by all EU institutions could help to clarify whether decisions have to be taken at European, national or regional level, when necessary articulating between different levels of governance;

2.    Countries must have agency to apply their legislative expertise, whilst respecting EU core values. Developing legislative proposals at EU level must be done in a participatory manner to ensure that every member State's national context is taken into consideration. Such mechanisms should also be enlarged to all regional parliaments within the EU that have legislative power;

3.    Reform the Committee of Regions, to encompass adequate channels of dialogue for regions as well as cities and municipalities, giving it an enhanced role in the institutional architecture, if matters with a territorial impact are concerned;

4.    Social partners and organised civil society should be provided with the necessary resources in order to be better included in the decision-making process, given their importance in the European democratic life. An engaged society is crucial for the democratic life of the European Union;

5.    Ensure that citizens have a clear understanding on how decisions made at EU level affect them at the local level through education and accessible information on EU core values as well as institutions which represent local interests.


Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or CERV. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

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