Government officials from the Barcelona City Council holding up the ECoD award, Source: Ajuntament de Barcelona

Europe’s first Capital of Democracy is – Barcelona

Europe’s first Capital of Democracy is – Barcelona

The Catalan capital will host events, spanning 2023 and 2024, to affirm the values that Europeans hold closest to their hearts

Today, the City of Barcelona was announced as the holder of the first-ever title of European Capital of Democracy (ECoD). Both the announcement and the award were given today at the Barcelona City Hall, with the news that the city will host events starting from September 2023 and continuing for one year until August 2024.

Barcelona impressed the jury (made up of 2,500 members from all Council of Europe member states) with different innovative projects. Among these is the Decidim platform, for citizen participation, developed in 2016 and which has been implemented in hundreds of cities around the world. Barcelona also presented the participatory process related to the Superilles as an urban transformation project that has counted on citizen participation to consult, deliberate and design the spaces.

The city also included participative budgets, the most participated process in the city, with more than 70,000 people registered to decide the fate of 30 million euros in investments in the districts; and deliberative citizen assemblies, such as the Youth Forum and the Climate Assembly.

The goals of Europe’s newest “capitalship” contest

Europeans have made it a modern tradition to shine the spotlight on different cities of their continent by promoting their good work in a specific sphere. The ECoD is thus the latest initiative in that regard, and it comes at an opportune and much-needed moment, what with the resurgence of war and propaganda in the Old Continent.

The main promoter of the initiative is The Innovation in Politics Institut GmbH, a European organization whose main objective is to promote democratic innovation and democratic strengthening in Europe and internationally. In addition, this initiative has the support of the Council of Europe and the European Commission, and European actors who seek to deepen democracy such as the Democratic Society, the German Marshall Foundation, and twenty other relevant actors.

On the occasion of the awarding of the status, Barcelona’s mayor Ada Colau issued the following statement: "In a global context where hate speech and authoritarianism are growing, cities must be the place to work together with citizens to strengthen democracy. We take this challenge as an opportunity to progress in democratic innovation, to cooperate with other cities and to ensure that the neighbours have an active role in public policies".



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