Citizens' Dialogues

Citizens' Dialogues

Joachim Ott
Main Organisation
Other Organisations
all Cabinets
all Commission Representations (except in the UK)
most communication units across the Commission


One of the priorities set by this European Commission was to listen, engage and involve citizens in shaping the EU of the future. This engagement has translated into almost 1,800 Citizens’ Dialogues in almost 700 cities since January 2015, with over 200,000 people from all ages and backgrounds having taken part. Citizens’ Dialogues are helping to close the gap between the EU and its citizens and build back trust in the institutions.

Organised as town hall style debates, often with national and local partners, Citizens’ Dialogues are a signature initiative of this Commission and a valuable communication tool to speak directly to citizens without any filters or intermediaries. Citizens’ views gathered during the Dialogues have fed into the policy-making process and have greater potential to do so in the future.

Participation Spectrum

When and Where

Start Year
End Year
Other Country

Policy Context

Specific Topic
Values, social policy, youth participation, populism and others.
Citizens' Dialogues are a part of the mission of the Commissioners under the Juncker Commission. The commitment was re-confirmed in the CWLP as well as in the annual State of the Union addresses.


Communities or representatives involved
Mostly citizens, but as participation was based on an open-door policy also representatives of civil society took part.
How were the Participants selected?
Through what means citizens knew about the call for participation?
Wide publication on Commission/Representation websites and on social media accounts, in many cases also advertisement in AV, print and social media.


Methodologies used
Methodology description
Open-door access policy with encouragement to address also hard-to-reach groups. Open discussions (in some cases stimulated by moderator) on portfolio of Commission representative and beyond. Questions&answers.
Tools Used


Main Outcomes and Lasting Achievement
Regular reporting (weekly) to President, Commissioners and DGs; yearly compilations of all Dialogues; specific contributions to State of the Union addresses since 2015; stand-alone publications; contributions to European Councils of December 2018 and May 2019; contribution to EU27 leaders' meeting in Sibiu in May 2019.
How were the outcome taken up within the process they were carried out?
Results of Citizens' Dialogues were integrated into policy documents of the Commission (as described under the last point).
Were the methodologies used elsewhere?


Reason for such challenges and solutions
- Open-doors policy was a cornerstone of the concept with the consequence that it attracted mainly pro-European audiences. This was addressed by asking the Commission Representations to try promoting these events also among harder-to-reach groups.
- The unit started with 10 persons and grew to 14 staff (thanks to END, JPP colleagues and stagiaires, who were allocated to the team).
Lessons Learn
(1) Covering the whole territory of the EU and the widest range of opinions is key.
(2) There is only one Europe - therefore interservice and interinstitutional cooperation is crucial.
(3) It is important to be present at the right place and time with the right themes.
(1) More bottom-up formats are required to enhance the quality of participants' contributions.
(2) There must be a clear link between policy making and citizens' engagement.
(3) In the long-term perspective we would need to connect the different instruments for citizens' engagements: Dialogues, staff engagement formats, ECI, programs such as Europe for Citizens.