Following a vote by several thousand members of a pan-European citizen jury, Barcelona will host a year of events dedicated to strengthening European democracy.
Barcelona has been awarded the title of European Capital of Democracy 2023/24. The result was announced at a press conference in Barcelona on Wednesday 18 January. From September 2023 until August 2024, Barcelona will host a Programme Year of events and activities to strengthen European democracy, organised in cooperation with partner organisations and citizens, with visitors from throughout Europe invited to participate.
Watch the announcement press conference here:
‘Local government has always been the level of public authority closest to the people it serves,’ said Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe in a video message of congratulations to Barcelona. ‘It is here that new ideas and democratic participation are best placed to flourish. The European Capital of Democracy not only recognises excellence but holds it up as an inspiration to others.’
In a separate video message, Vice-President of the European Commission Dubravka Šuica highlighted the urgency of the initiative in these uncertain times: ‘After a decade of multiple crises and attacks on our European values, it is time to join forces, fight back and connect the democratic innovators and change-makers of our time. The European Capital of Democracy will create a vibrant stage for democratic best practice exchange and for experiencing new forms of democratic innovation in action.’
Between 2 and 15 January, several thousand citizen jurors from 46 Council of Europe member states assessed a range of projects by three finalist cities, Barcelona, Braga, and Brussels. Barcelona convinced the jury with its wide range of innovative projects, including Decidim, a digital citizen participation platform the city developed in 2016 and now in use by hundreds of cities around the world; and Superblock, an initiative to reclaim the city’s streets from cars.
Antonella Valmorbida, Secretary General of ALDA and Chairwoman of the ECoD Experts’ Jury highlighted the strength of all three finalist cities: ‘Brussels has been experimenting with ways to get feedback from the community before they introduce lasting changes. Barcelona is an innovator, embracing both new digital models and in-person participation. Braga’s model of Connective Intelligence Democracy seeks perspectives from experts in a wide range of fields, building on the value of openness.’
Helfried Carl, Founder of European Capital of Democracy, added: ‘This is a crucial moment for European civil society and European democracy alike after more than two years of hard preparation of this initiative. The selection of Barcelona provides us with a great platform to showcase best practice in participation and to prove that democracy delivers for European citizens.’