The Democratic Odyssey project, coordinated by the Florence School of Transnational Governance at the EUI, garnered public interest from the three EU institutions during a landmark event in Brussels. The gathering brought together EU officials, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), civil society representatives, and individuals randomly selected for participation in previous European panels.
Under the leadership of Dubravka Šuica, Vice-President for Democracy and Demography of the European Commission, participants delved into discussions on the future of citizen participation in the European Union. Speakers at the event also included Helmut Scholz (MEP, DIE LINKE), Alin Mituța (MEP, Renew Europe), Simonetta Cook (Cabinet of Charles Michel, European Council), Annemie De Clerck (Citizen Panellist, Conference on the Future of Europe), Damian Boeselager (MEP, Volt Europa), Brando Bonifei (MEP), Niccolò Milanese (European Alternatives), and moderators Kalypso Nicolaïdis (Chair in Global Affairs at the Florence STG and co-lead of the Democratic Odyssey project) and James Mackay (Research Associate at the Florence STG and co-lead of the Democratic Odyssey project).
The event, marked by a collaborative spirit, addressed the innovative approaches to participative democracy presented by the Democratic Odyssey. Vice-President Šuica expressed her support, stating:
“[…] This flotilla continues to grow, and your crew is increasing steadily. I have been following the course you have charted, and I hope the work we have done in the European Commission both in the Conference on the Future of Europe and the European Citizens’ Panels provide you with an inspirational compass for the exciting journey ahead.” Find the full speech here.
The reference is to the Democratic Odyssey: a crowdsourced, decentralised, and collaborative initiative that aims to institutionalise a permanent people's assembly in the EU. Spearheaded by a broad consortium of actors, and scientifically coordinated by the Florence School of Transnational Governance at the European University Institute, the project draws inspiration from COFE, ECPs, upcoming assemblies organized by the European Parliament, the EC’s Joint Research Centre, and other deliberative experiments worldwide. The methodology developed will be put to the test in Athens in September 2024, where the Democratic Odyssey will organise a randomly selected, transnational peoples’ assembly as a prototype for an EU-wide peoples’ assembly.
The event marked a significant moment as the three EU institutions convened to discuss an embedded vision for citizens’ participation, engaging in a dialogue with citizens who had previously participated in European Assemblies and other committed individuals. This stems from the Democratic Odyssey’s middle-way process: bridging top-down and bottom-up dynamics in transnational deliberation experiments.
The Democratic Odyssey consortium extends its heartfelt gratitude to Vice-President Šuica for her invaluable contribution and steadfast support. Her insights and commitment are instrumental in shaping the project's trajectory and inspiring confidence in the transformative potential of participatory democracy within the European Union.
For more information about the Democratic Odyssey, visit the project’s website and follow its social media accounts on (Instagram and X).
Read the new Transnational Democracy policy brief by Emilie Gjaldbæk-Sverdrup, Kalypso Nicolaïdis and Nicolás Palomo Hernández: “Technocratic democratisation” : what can we learn from the European Commission’s new generation European citizens’ panels?.