European Democracy Action Plan: the role of Cohesion policy

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The European Commission presented its European Democracy Action Plan to empower citizens and build more resilient democracies across the EU. The contribution of the EU cohesion policy to this process is essential.

Through its long experience in supporting economic development, social inclusion and direct partnership with the main actors involved – citizens, civil society, economic and social organisations, public administrations, it plays a central role in the efforts to support a vibrant civil society and to promote and enhance democratic participation in the use of EU funds.

In the Plan, the Commission encourages Member States to make best use of relevant EU structural and investment funds to support and reinforce civil society capacities at both national and local level and involve civil society organisations in the partnership with the different levels of public administration, including by building a deliberative democracy infrastructure.

This will allow for better civic participation and public engagement in the shaping of priorities, including for the Next Generation EU initiative in each Member State, region and community.  

A set of actions have already been launched in this regard following the High-Level Conference on the issue of Engaging Citizens for Good Governance in Cohesion Policy in February 2020 with the aim to move one step forward in promoting meaningful citizens participation.

In this context, DG REGIO has launched a wide call for proposals from civil society organisations. Under a complementary action, five national and regional programmes are receiving targeted support from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to improve their participatory processes. Five Member States participated in a pilot on rolling out the At the school of open cohesion initiative – a school competition involving civic monitoring of EU-funded projects.

The European Commission, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Open Contracting Partnership joined forces to improve the quality and transparency of public tenders co-funded by EU funds in Greece and Poland. Thanks to their support, two pilot projects will provide expertise and hands-on support to public authorities in both countries, with a focus on digital innovation.

Further initiatives will follow soon, especially in the field of participation in the just transition.


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