Challenges and adaptation have become the norm in democratic processes in Europe and all around the world. Although we live in an increasingly advanced world in many respects, there is a constant and growing need to act in defence of democracy and democrats.
This was the starting point behind the EPD’s Annual Conference and 15th Anniversary, which took place on June 20th 2023, at the Hotel Comet in Brussels.
The Conference saw the participation of brilliant keynote speakers who nurtured the discussion, notably the Vice-President of the Commission, Ms Dubravka Šuica who gave an inspiring speech on the future of democratic participation in Europe.
“We continue our work on building an innovative democratic ecosystem that is the basis for a democracy fit for the future. Both on- and off-line. – Stated Ms Šuica – In a democracy, our greatest, most precious asset is our citizens. It may sound obvious, but I must emphasise that there is no democracy without citizens. (…). We really need to improve how we communicate with our #citizens and the best way to do this is starting at the grassroots with local democracy actors”.
[Read the full speech here]
In the wake of the welcome speech Ms Šuica gave at the opening ceremony of ALDA General Assembly, for ALDA it is always extremely motivating and inspiring to note the Commission’s proximity and direct support in our joint efforts in favour of local democracy and citizen participation in Europe and beyond, acting as strong partners pursuing the same mission.
“We need to improve how we communicate with our citizens and the best way to do this is starting at the grassroots with local democracy actors” – Ms Dubravka Šuica
Ms Šuica then mentioned all successful and innovative participative practices introduced thanks to the Conference on the Future of Europe, as well as the importance of the more recent Defence of Democracy Package, to which ALDA itself had the opportunity to include specific recommendations.
This intervention paved the way for a panel exploring initiatives to increase participation across Europe. Moderated by Richard Youngs, Carnegie Europe, the panel was animated by:
- Alberto Alemanno, Jean Monnet Professor of EU Law and HEC Paris and founder at The Good Lobby
- Colin Scicluna, Head of Cabinet of Vice President Dubavka Šuica, European Commission
- Antonella Valmorbida, Secretary General of ALDA – the European Association for Local Democracy
- Anthony Zacharzewski, President of The Democratic Society