19 September 2023

The People's Green Deal: Citizens' Participation in Europe's Sustainability Agenda

project deliverable Civil Society Report

2023 Annual Monitoring Report

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The People's Green Deal: Citizens' Participation in Europe's Sustainability Agenda


A key element of legitimate policy making is enabling the meaningful participation and deliberation of citizens, amplifying their voices, and ensuring they are heard and reflected in the process. For policies at all levels to be able to tackle real issues and propose effective solutions, citizens and their representatives must be involved through all steps of the policy-making cycle, from agenda-setting to monitoring and reformulation. 

A deep transformation of our economies and societies towards climate-neutrality and sustainability requires setting up meaningful and effective processes for participatory and deliberative policymaking. The European Green Deal (EGD), the EU’s strategy to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, foresees some instruments for the participation of citizens and civil society organisations, including stakeholder consultations, as well as more structured tools such as the Just Transition Platform and the European Climate Pact. But how are these instruments performing? How democratic are they? And what other recent instruments, both at the European Union (EU) and national level, have been used to shape the green transition? In this brief publication we aim to answer these questions by providing an overview of some of these instruments and formulating recommendations for how to improve them.

Our assessment of civic participation in the European Green Deal comes at a crucial time. Today, our societies are severely impacted by continuous and interconnected crises: the aftermath of the Covid-19 health crisis, the ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine, the climate and environmental emergency, inflation and rising energy prices, and the cost-of-living crisis. While such crises may call for rapid responses, far too often decision-makers use them as a pretext for making swift decisions without consulting citizens. In a modern democracy such decision-making should be an exception, not the rule. Cutting back on consultation is cutting back on democracy.

We must strengthen civil and social dialogue, so that when swift and bold action is necessary civil society, trade unions and other affected stakeholders can promptly take part in decision-making. Through forms of participatory and deliberative democracy, the European Green Deal can gather wider support and it can be implemented more effectively. 

You can find out more about them by downloading the report (click here to download)

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