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E-democracy projects

Forum History


The Forum was established by the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe  (Warsaw, May 2005), to strengthen democracy, political freedoms and citizens' participation.


Forum previous sessions


(Limassol, Cyprus, October)

Interdependence of democracy and social cohesion.

New: Proceedings

"Radical measures taken in many countries to try to balance public budgets are both necessary and understandable” but  “Countries are running a high risk of seriously undermining the European model of social cohesion.”  declared Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland while opening the Cyprus Forum.


(Yerevan, October)

Perspectives 2020 Democracy in Europe - Principles and Challenges



''The Council of Europe has a unique strategic role to play in strengthening good democratic governance at all levels in the European space''. Democracy, or rather good democratic governance, is now not only intrinsically linked to the respect of human rights but is also recognised as the most effective form of governance to ensure stability, sustainability and well-being.

 That was the main message of the 2010 Forum.




(Kyiv, October)

Electoral systems: strengthening democracy in the 21st century


 "In a genuine democracy, the citizen is sovereign and the voter decides" - that was the main message of the 2009 Forum, which highlighted the need for greater public involvement, with a view to increasing voter turnout and ensuring that all stages of public life are democratic..




(Madrid, October)

"E-democracy: who dares?"


The discussions addressed the impact of information and communication technologies (ICTs) on democracy.




(Stockholm, June)

"Power and empowerment - The interdependence of democracy and human rights"


This event addressed issues such as the role and responsibilities of the opposition, representative democracy at the local and regional level, empowerment of the individual and non-discrimination, respect for freedom of expression and association for civil society, and fostering democracy, human rights and social networks.




(Moscow, October)

"The role of political parties in the building of democracy"


The Forum reflected on  the role and responsibilities of political parties in finding democratic solutions to contemporary challenges, the interaction between political parties and with other actors in the democratic process, and the building and strengthening of democratic institutions.



Launch meeting (Warsaw, November 2005)

"Citizens' participation"



The discussions addressed the state of contemporary democracy in Europe.


Previous projects


Democratic institutions work")


    Citizens’ Forum
    « NGOs – key players in democratic governance »

    Strasbourg, 4-5 November 2002

    The existence of an active civil society and its NGOs is a vital component of European society and an important element of democracy. NGOs play an essential role in a pluralist democracy by contributing to checks and balances and enhancing the active participation of all citizens in the conduct of public affairs1. The idea of a new democratic governance involving stakeholders in a deliberative policy-making process is gradually moving from the academic debate into policy practice. In this framework, organised civil society is a key actor in ensuring government accountability. New democratic governance, having a strong deliberative component, implies the participation in collective decision making of all stakeholders who are likely to be affected by a decision.

    I. Objectives of the Forum:

      - Outline general trends in Europe towards a greater involvement of civil society organisations in democratic policy making.
      - Hold an open discussion, within the framework of the “quadrilogue”2, on conditions and ways for empowering NGOs with a view to establishing participatory democracy as an integral part of representative democracy.
      - Identify the implications of new democratic governance for the Council of Europe’s working methods, in particular improving NGOs access to the work of Council of Europe’s bodies and revising CM Resolution (93) 8 on relations between international NGOs and the Council of Europe.

    II. Programme

    Monday, 4 November

    8.45 Registration of participants

    9.30 Opening of the Forum
    NGO participation in the work of the Council of Europe – realities and perspectives
    (Room 9, simultaneous interpretation English-French)

    Walter Schwimmer, Secretary General of the Council of Europe

        Chairperson: Klaus Schumann, Director General of Political Affairs of the Council of Europe

        Introductory addresses by:

        § Ambassador Gérard Philipps, Permanent Representative of Luxembourg, Chairman of the Ministers’ Deputies

        § Representative of the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

        § Representative of the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe

        § Daniel Zielinski, Chairman of the Liaison Committee of international NGOs enjoying consultative status with the Council of Europe

    10.30 Coffee break

    11.00 First plenary session: The analytical framework
    (Room 9, simultaneous interpretation English-French)

    Keynote speech on the state of the discussion on NGOs as a partner in governance:
    Helmut K. Anheier, Director of the Centre for Civil Society, London School of Economics, UK

Presentation of the Fundamental principles on the status of NGOs in Europe
Marc Tysebaert, Ministry of Justice, Belgium

Discussants’ interventions and debate
Claude-Laurent Genty, CITI, Honorary Chairperson of the Liaison Commiteee of NGOs enjoying Consultative Status with the Council of Europe
Dorothée Meyer, University of Cergy-Pontoise, France
Kaori Kuroda, Coalition for Legislation to Support Citizens' Organisations, UK

Introduction to the workshop sessions

    12.30 Lunch break

    14.15 First workshop session

        Three workshops with approximately 30 participants each will be offered. The objective is to provide a forum for practice-oriented discussion along the following lines:

      - Enabling conditions for the participation of stakeholders in new democratic governance: legal framework, financial resources, internal functioning of NGOs (democracy and accountability), political conditions (consultative/deliberative structures and processes, accountable decision-making).

      - Mechanisms for interest articulation (interaction of NGOs with citizens) and interest aggregation (NGO platforms and their interaction with democratic institutions).

      - Structures and methods for NGO participation at different levels of governance: case studies.

          Workshop No. 1
          NGOs as key players in local governance
          (Room 9, simultaneous interpretation English-French)

              Chairperson: Gianfranco Martini, AICCRE, Member of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe
              Introductory statement: Yves Sintomer, Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin, Germany

        Resource person: Lawrence Pratchett, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK

          Case studies:
          Local authorities - Marcos Herrero, Mayor’s office, Alcobena, Spain
          Youth - Emilia Marinova, Youth Cultural-Information Centre Gabrovo, Bulgaria
          Gender mainstreaming - Elisabeth Sclater, International Alliance of Women, UK and Elisabeth Hayes


              Workshop No. 2
              NGOs as key players in national governance

          (Room 10, simultaneous interpretation English-French)

      Chairperson: A member of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

          Introductory statement: John Casey, Charles Stuart University, Sydney, Australia
          Case studies:
          The Estonian NGO parliamentary initiative - Tõnis Lukas, Member of Parliament and Kristina Mänd, Network of Estonian Non-profit Organisations
          NGOs and public policy making - Anna Belia, Soros Foundation, Hungary

              Rapporteur: Yvonne Galligan, Queen’s University, Belfast, UK

          Workshop No.3
          NGOs as key players in European/international governance
          (Room 11, no interpretation - English only)

          Chairperson: Cyril Ritchie, INTERPHIL, Head of the NGO Grouping “Civil Society in the New Europe”
          Introductory statement: Jing de la Rosa, Popular Coalition for Rural Development
          Case studies:
          Regional level - Sonja Lokar, Chair of the Stability Pact Gender Task Force
          Global level - Henri Rouillé d'Orfeuil, Chairman of Coordination Sud, France

              Rapporteur: Christian Vergez, Public Management Programme, OECD

    18.15 Reception given by Klaus Schumann, Director General of Political Affairs on behalf of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe

    Tuesday, 5 November

    9.30 Second Workshop session

        (resumption of discussions from previous day, same themes, same rooms)

          Coffee break around 11.00

    12.30 Lunch break

    14.00 Second plenary session
    (Room 9, simultaneous interpretation English-French)

    14.00 Reporting back from the three workshops

        Chairperson: Michael Remmert, Director of the Integrated Project “Making democratic institutions work”

    Reports by the working group rapporteurs


    14.45 Panel discussion: Civil society participation and the Quadrilogue at Council of Europe level

        Chairperson: Jutta Gützkow, Head of the Division of NGOs and Civil Society
        Ministers’ Deputies: Ambassador Lana Gogoberidze, Rapporteur on Relations with NGOs, Permanent Representative of Georgia to the Council of Europe
        Parliamentary Assembly: NN
        Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe: NN
        NGO Liaison Committee: Daniel Zielinski, Chairman of the Liaison Committee of international NGOs enjoying consultative status with the Council of Europe

    15.30 Coffee break

    16.00 Closing session

        Chairperson: Hans de Jonge, Director of External Relations
        General rapporteur: Jill Lovecy, University of Manchester, UK
        Chairperson’s conclusions

    17.00 End of the Citizens’ forum

    Further information:

    Irena Guidikova
    Integrated project “Making democratic institutions work”
    Tel: + 33 3 88 41 32 19
    Fax: + 33 3 90 21 52 85
    E-mail: irena.guidikova@coe.int

    This Forum has received a special grant from the government of Japan

1 From the Declaration of the joint NGO/Parliamentarians conference “Citizenship, solidarity: what sort of Europe do we want?”, Strasbourg, 6-7 November 2001

2 Process of consultation and co-operation between NGOs, the Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe