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Trusting Europe? How we (can) get citizen engagement right

Launch of the Open Government Network for Europe

Hosted by:
European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)
Rue Belliard 99-101, 1000 Brussels

Please contact the OGP Secretariat with any questions at


Across Europe, trust in government and institutions is at an all time low.  A growing number of Europeans feel left behind and powerless, fueling a sense of injustice, insecurity, and perceived threat from migration and terrorism.  This is a profound challenge.

While voters in some countries have kept radical forces out of office, in other countries populist and even authoritarian leaders have risen to power.  To push against this trend, we need to open new frontiers of participation. People want to shape policies on issues they care about, feel that their voices have genuinely been heard, and see visible impact. How can Europe get that right?

Europe’s institutions are home to a growing set of initiatives that aim to place citizens at the heart of government, and build transparent, accountable governance.  Committed reformers across the political landscape are coming together to explore how governments can better work for and with citizens, from local projects to the European Citizen Consultations pioneered by President Macron and being taken forward by the Commission and 27 member states.  The European institutions themselves have undertaken many initiatives. But as trust in government continues to plummet, there is little room for error. Single initiatives and short-term pilots are no longer enough – Europe must build open government and citizen engagement in a joined-up way, consistently and over the long term.

The event

This fireside chat brings together renowned European experts, political leaders and civil society advocates to engage the audience in a candid conversation on how government in Europe can be made more inclusive, responsive and accountable, and what that means for European institutions looking to (re)build trust.

The event will also see the launch of a new network of champions working on transparency, accountability and citizen engagement across Europe, in all its diversity. Through the Open Government Network for Europe (OGNfE), the Open Government Partnership and the Democratic Society aim to connect and drive the growing efforts for open, accountable and citizen-centered government by bringing together committed reformers and civil society leaders across the continent.  The network is open to professionals from inside and outside the European institutions, and from Brussels and beyond. Activities will include town halls with political leaders, thematic fireside chats, peer learning opportunities, networking events and in-depth technical workshops. As the network develops, it will allow members to link and extend their open government initiatives, to create new projects using the network as a platform, and to move towards a common agenda for the development of open government and citizen participation across Europe.


10:30 – Coffee and Registration

11:00 – Welcome (Ms Christa SCHWENG, President of the Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship, European Economic and Social Committee)

11:10 – Opening remarks and introduction of speakers (Moderator: Jennifer Baker)

11:15 – Speakers’ remarks (2 min each)

  • Sanjay Pradhan, CEO, Open Government Partnership
  • Emily O’Reilly, European Ombudsman
  • Katarina Mathernova, Deputy Director-General, DG Near
  • Gaëtane Ricard-Nihoul, Secrétaire général adjointe, Consultations Citoyennes sur l’Europe / Citizens’ Consultations on Europe
  • John Watson, Director for Better Regulation and Work Programme, Secretariat General, EC

Speakers subject to change.

11:25 – Fireside chat (moderator)

12:15 – OGNfE launch (Paul Maassen, OGP, & Anthony Zacharzewski, Democratic Society)

12:30 – Close

Open Government Partnership