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Participatory Budgeting: How can it strengthen democracy and empower communities in the EU?


Participatory Budgeting: How can it strengthen democracy and empower communities in the EU?


Fostering greater and more informed civic engagement is deemed to be an effective way to strengthen democracy and democratic values in the EU. The concept is gaining traction given the rise in populist voting patterns and the perceived democratic deficit in the EU.

Participatory budgeting, a process in which community members directly decide how to allocate a portion of a public or community budget, is an innovative solution to overcome this perceived democratic deficit and dissatisfaction among citizens. It is especially relevant when the process involves individuals who feel excluded from political and policy processes. It also serves to increase civic engagement and promote transparency and accountability.

Participatory budgeting is becoming an increasingly popular democratic tool in Europe. Globally, Europe is the region with the most participatory budgeting projects.

Whilst active citizen engagement, such as participatory budgeting, can bring democracy closer to citizens, questions remain about whether it will give a voice to the voiceless or simply amplify voices we already hear.

There are concerns about the diversity of participants such as the youth, people with migratory backgrounds, and lower-income citizens, who tend to not take part in these initiatives. Minority groups such as immigrants can struggle with language and cultural barriers.

Young people are statistically underrepresented in both national and EU parliaments. Some stakeholders argue that by letting young people decide how to spend a part of the city budget empowers them, providing a valuable lesson in civic education.

In the context of the H2020 project DEMOTEC, join this EURACTIV Virtual Conference to discuss the potential of participatory budgeting in the national context and at EU level. How effective are projects in fostering civic engagement and countering the democratic deficit and citizen dissatisfaction? How can participatory budgeting be inclusive for all?

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement no 962553.

This website reflects only the author’s view and the Research Executive Agency or European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

Supported by:




Andrea Erdei
Policy Analyst, Innovation in Government, Democracy and European Values, DG RTD, European Commission

Helmut Scholz MEP
Member, AFCO Committee, European Parliament

Philip von Brockdorff
Member, Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship, European Economic and Social Committee

Elisa Lironi
Programme Director, European Citizen Action Service

Giovanni Allegretti
Senior Researcher, Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra & Member, Working Group on Democracy, Citizenship and Law


Silvia Ellena


09:30 – 09:35 Welcome
09:35 – 09:50 Panellist statements
09:50 – 10:40 Discussion and Q&A
10:40 – 10:45 Closing statements


Síofra Gilmore
+32 222 65 823

Related article

EU could experiment with a participatory budget, experts say

EU could experiment with a participatory budget, experts say

Experts and lawmakers are making a case for a co-decision process allowing European citizens to have a voice in deciding how the EU budget is allocated, which could strengthen citizen participation and drive sustainable economic growth models across member states.