In recent years, the European Commission has increasingly promoted citizens’ participation and has linked it to participatory democracy. The article analyses whether recent apparently participatory citizens’ projects qualify as participatory democracy in the normative theoretical sense. Being aware that the European Union’s, and therefore the Commission’s, understanding are much less demanding, it also asks to what degree the Commission’s own objectives were met. For this purpose, both the normative concept based on secondary literature and the empirical concept based on an analysis of the pertinent EU and Commission documents and communications will be introduced as points of reference for the discussion of the citizens’ projects. By analysing online documentation of the projects, the article will show that the projects neither meet normative standards nor the Commission’s own objectives and that participatory democracy in the EU faces important practical constraints.
Participatory democracy; European Commission; European Union
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