05 March 2024

The REAL DEAL Handbook: Frameworks for citizen engagement in the European Green Deal

project deliverable

This Handbook presents general, practical guidance for policymakers, agencies, civil society organisations, and other stakeholders engaged in consultation and participation related to the European Green Deal (EGD).

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The REAL DEAL Handbook: Frameworks for citizen engagement in the European Green Deal


The REAL DEAL Handbook gives a snapshot of the existing legal and institutional frameworks for citizen engagement in relation to the EGD. It aims to provide a clear understanding of the legal, institutional and policy background for citizen engagement as a foundation for considering possible forms, formats, methods and tools for participation to use in the future.

The Handbook examines two main types of citizen engagement. The first is participatory style engagement, which fulfils legal minimum requirements for policy makers to engage the public. Europe’s quarter-century experience with the Aarhus Convention is invaluable in this regard. The second type explores innovative forms of engagement based on consultative and deliberative mechanisms such as citizen assemblies.

You can download the full version here, and country profiles in the links below:









North Macedonia






The report is structured as follows:

1. Introduction:

Outlining the purpose and scope of the handbook.

2. Background on Citizen Engagement Obligations:

Delving into the EGD and the interlinkages with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including a historical perspective on citizen engagement and the legal frameworks that support participatory rights, specifically in the context of environmental health and international principles like Rio Principle 10.

3. Environmental Governance in Europe:

A thorough exploration of European governance approaches, examining the various dimensions such as transparency, participation, redress, compliance assurance, accountability, and efficiency. It also considers the environmental governance situation in non-EU Member States within the European Neighbourhood.

4. Mechanisms for Citizen Engagement:

An analysis of the legal standards that underpin participatory mechanisms in the EGD, spotlighting EU laws with specific obligations for citizen engagement and how they facilitate transparency, participation, and the right to seek redress.

5. Consultative and Deliberative Practices:

An investigation into the practices of consultative and deliberative mechanisms for citizen engagement. It evaluates the complexities of multi-level governance, the role of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), consultations on the SDGs, and other innovative methods such as citizen assemblies.

6. Real Deal Analysis and Recommendations:

Concluding with an in-depth analysis and tailored recommendations for decision-makers, this section seeks to enhance the effectiveness of citizen engagement practices in shaping Europe's sustainable future.


This handbook is an essential read for policymakers, environmental advocates, and engaged citizens alike, offering a detailed road map for meaningful and effective public involvement in the sustainable initiatives at the heart of the European Green Deal.

Find out more about the REAL DEAL project