Before you act, enquire about your rights and duties.
You may already know that the European Union is a rather complex legal and political system. What is important, however, is that you have the right to know exactly what is going on. You can ask for and receive information about basically everything happening within the Union. You also have the legal right of ‘access to documents’ of all EU institutions.
2. Be consulted
You have many channels enabling you to comment on EU policies and proposals.
As the rules and laws of the European Union have a great impact on our daily lives, it is important to know that the public decision-making process in the EU is legally required to be open and responsive. For this reason, the EU institutions are obliged to ‘maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue’ (Article 11(2) of the Lisbon Treaty) and to ‘carry out broad consultations with parties concerned in order to ensure that the Union’s actions are coherent and transparent’ (Article 11(3) of the Lisbon Treaty).
The Public consultations service is an official ‘single access point’ to ongoing consultations and public discussions relating to European policymaking processes. When registering, you can even sign up for email notifications and receive invitations to participate in formal consultation processes.
You can join a political party or organise your own citizens’ initiative.
The European Union is a modern representative democracy, in which the public exerts an influence both indirectly (via the European Parliament) and directly (through participation). The fundamental charters, treaties and laws of the EU comply with Article 21 of the Universal Charter of Human Rights, which stipulates that ‘everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country …’, and, for the first time in world history, bring this principle to the transnational level.
In other words: you have the right and are very welcome to participate actively in the EU policymaking process, for example by joining/participating in a political party represented in the European Parliament or by petitioning the EP. The most powerful tool for participatory democracy in the EU is (currently) the European Citizens’ Initiative which allows you to set the agenda of the European Union!
What is Active Citizenship?
Participation in civil society, community and/or political life, characterised by mutual respect and non-violence and in accordance with human rights and democracy (Hoskins 2006)
The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Project Advocacy for Gender Equality and Active Citizenship, Grant agreement n. 608695/2019,
Capacity Building in the Field of Youth, Erasmus +