The European Union is a union of citizens built upon a foundation of representative democracy. However, in order to bridge the gap between European citizens and the European Union, citizens need to be given a larger and more meaningful say in the Union’s decision-making processes. Overall, in order to increase public engagement and participation, political processes need to become more inclusive and more transparent in order to pave the way for a real European multilevel democracy.

Against the backdrop of the decreasing trust and confidence in the European institutions, and the rise of nationalism, far-right movements and undemocratic political parties, it is urgent that the European Union addresses the gap between itself and the European citizens. As such, after the #EUelections2019, the next European Parliament should;

1. Make sure to give everyone a say.  

Citizens’ participation in the decision-making process is not only about voting, but also about consultation. Therefore, the European Parliament should push for a structured and truly transparent consultation process in all EU institutions – at all levels – whilst also making sure to strike a fair balance between business-oriented lobby and citizens’ participation. We believe in strengthening the position of civil society organisations, local governments, trade unions, and employer organisations as they all can play a vital role in consultation processes and in bridging the gap between the European citizens and the European Union.

2. Revamp the European elections to enhance political participation.

The overall interest in European elections needs to be increased. This can be done by creating more ‘European’ political parties with European-wide election manifestos, promoting a more coherent approach and visible affiliation between European parties and national parties. Also, the European Parliament should push for lowering the voting age to 16 and make more use of online tools as a way to revitalise citizens’ involvement. Across the board, political parties and MEPs should promote the use of digital tools to engage their electorate and broader civil society.

3. Further develop the Commission President selection procedure.

The introduction of the ‘Spitzenkandidaten’ procedure in the 2014 European elections, allowed the European political parties to select their own candidates for President of the European Commission. This procedure reinforces the political legitimacy of both the European Parliament and the European Commission and holds the potential of introducing greater diversity in the President selection process. Therefore, this procedure should be further developed – for instance through the implementation of primaries on a regular basis.

Positions on this topic can be found on our website:

Enhancing Participation Tools in the EU

Citizen’s participation and transparency: closing the gap

Citizens’ participation in the digital age: e-democracy

Political Parties On Issues

  • European People's Party
  • Socialists and Democrats
  • ALDE
  • European Greens
  • European Free Alliance
  • ECR Group
  • European Left



The On Our Watch project brings together Civil Society Organisations working on all kind of topics. As representatives of and in direct contact with citizens, organisations have a strong role to play in holding the European Parliament accountable to the public. By joining forces in the context of the #EUelections2019 (23-26 May), On Our Watch offers a comprehensive overview of the key issues that European citizens care about.

Want to join? Get in touch! Contact: christian.skriverik[@]  | Address: Place du Luxembourg 2, B-1050, Brussels | Phone: +32 2 508 30 83