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Nets4Dem Democracy Retreat #1: National and European Democracy

Democratic backsliding, polarisation, and citizen distrust were at the heart of our discussion in Brussels at the first Nets4Dem Democracy Retreat, held on March 26.

Our lunch dialogues highlighted innovative thinking and collective engagement to fortify the foundations of European democracy. With a focus on the upcoming European Parliament and Belgian elections, as well as the strategic agenda of the next European Commission, our dialogue aimed to bridge the gap between theory and practice, fostering a stronger EU democratic fabric.

These dialogues were held alongside the 41st Plenary of the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs (COSAC). COSAC brings together the EU affairs committees of national Parliaments, as well as Members of the European Parliament. These plenary meetings take place twice a year and this meeting involved Members of Parliament from 15 COSAC delegations.

Public authorities, policymakers, members of parliament play a crucial role in making democracies more inclusive, effective and participatory so that they can rebuild trust with citizens and enable new pathways of political engagement, particularly by embedding deliberative decision-making processes in the existing culture and structures of our democratic institutions.

The key discussion points and pressing questions that kept our minds - and tables - buzzing were:
1. How can the European Parliament and national parliaments work together to hold executive powers accountable?
2. What tools can boost citizen participation in policymaking, going beyond just voting?
3. Are there synergies in exchanging democratic practices?

Our key takeaways were a) the need for a better collaboration between European and national parliaments when it comes to advancing democracy in Europe and b) innovative participatory processes as a means of citizen education and fostering democratic culture.

Special thanks to EGMONT - Royal Institute for International Relations and TEPSA - Trans European Policy Studies Association for the event.

We’re working to fortify European democracy - together! Stay tuned to learn more.

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