Innovating democracy: the nexus between national and European democracy


26 March 2024



Type of Event

Closed-door lunch-dialogue

On invitation only


TEPSA and the Egmont Institute

Within the EU’s evolving landscape, the proposed topics for discussion address the pressing need to understand how multilayered levels of governance can exchange and learn from their experiences on democratic strengthening and renewal. As the EU contemplates enlargement and internal reforms, this closed-door lunch-dialogues, co-organised by TEPSA and the Egmont Institute seeks, among other themes, to address the challenges posed by democratic backsliding, polarisation, citizen distrust in or dissatisfaction towards institutions, and national and internal frictions in EU decision-making.

With a keen eye on the 2024 European Parliament (EP) and Belgian elections, the next European Commission’s strategic agenda, and the Belgian Presidency at the Council of the EU, these dialogues within the scope of Nets4Dem will delve into strategies to bridge the gap between theoretical ideals and practical implementations fostering a more robust and resilient EU democratic fabric. Amidst uncertainties, there exists a profound aspiration to reverse these challenging trends, and the discussions will navigate the path toward achieving this by accelerating the pace of democratic innovations at the levels of parliamentary decision-making within Member States and the EU. This lunch will occur on the sidelines of the 41st COSAC Plenary and as a continuation of its discussion on ‘Democracy and the Rule of Law in Europe’.

Key discussion points

  1. How can the European Parliament and national parliaments ensure effective accountability of executive powers?
  2. What mechanisms and strategies can be employed to promote citizen engagement in democracy and policymaking across different levels of governance, extending beyond elections?
  3. How can we identify and deploy practices that foster the advancement and safeguarding of democracy, with a focus on widespread adoption? Additionally, what potential synergies exist in exchanging democratic practices among diverse stakeholders?


Opening remarks and speakers:

  • Mariam Khotenashvili, Executive Director, TEPSA;
  • Jean-Louis de Brouwer, Director of the European Affairs Programme, Egmont Institute;
  • Rieke Wönig, Nets4Dem Programme Coordinator, Democracy Reporting International;
  • Ken Godfrey, Executive Director, European Partnership for Democracy;
  • Kalypso Nicolaïdis, Chair in Global Affairs at the School of Transnational Governance, European University Institute;
  • Sophie Pornschlegel, Director of Studies and Development, Europe Jacques Delors
  • Anthony Zacharzewski, President, Democratic Society;


The discussion, under Chatham House rules, will be moderated by Ward Den Dooven, Fellow at the Egmont Institute.

What is Nets4Dem?

Nets4Dem, a Horizon Europe project coordinated by Democracy Reporting International, endeavours to reshape the landscape of democracy initiatives. Nets4Dem brings together more than 200 cities, over 50 think tanks and universities, and dozens of democracy-focused NGOs, covering 38 European countries. Nets4Dem aims to enhance and transform the current landscape of democracy initiatives by creating a unique European network. This network is designed to facilitate high degrees of connectedness among policy-makers, practitioners, and researchers, by providing improved access to cross-cutting work on democratic innovations. It further aims to weave networks spanning various sectors, geographies and levels of governance, thereby redistributing power and resources to those who stand to gain the most from initiatives aimed at engaging citizens in civic renewal.


The closed-door event will convene 45 select participants, including COSAC Delegations from 16 national parliaments across EU Member States and associated countries, representatives from EU institutions, Ministers, Permanent Representatives, think tanks, NGOs and academia.

Contact information

Should you have any questions about this event or upcoming Nets4Dem  activities, please send an email to or