18 January 2023
Barcelona has been awarded the title of European Capital of Democracy for 2023/24. The result was announced at a press conference in Barcelona today.
From September 2023 until August 2024, Barcelona will host a year-long programme of events and activities to strengthen European democracy, organised in cooperation with partner organisations and citizens, with visitors from throughout Europe invited to participate.
“Local government has always been the level of public authority closest to the people it serves,” said Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe in a video message of congratulations to Barcelona.
“It is here that new ideas and democratic participation are best placed to flourish.”
In a separate video message, Vice-President of the European Commission Dubravka Šuica highlighted the urgency of the initiative in these uncertain times: “After a decade of multiple crises and attacks on our European values, it is time to join forces, fight back and connect the democratic innovators and change-makers of our time.”
“The European Capital of Democracy will create a vibrant stage for democratic best practice exchange and for experiencing new forms of democratic innovation in action.”
Between the 2nd and 15th of January, several thousand citizen jurors from 46 Council of Europe member states assessed a range of projects by three finalist cities — Barcelona, Braga, and Brussels — and voted online.
Barcelona convinced the jury with its wide range of innovative projects, including Decidim — a digital citizen participation platform the city developed in 2016 and which is now in use by hundreds of cities around the world.
In Barcelona alone, Decidim has more than 150 thousand participants and has received more than 28 thousand citizen proposals.
Other projects include Superblock — an initiative to reclaim the city’s streets from cars and create green spaces within 200 metres of every resident’s home.
As well as the Barcelona Youth Forum — an initiative administered through the Decidim platform, aimed at engaging youth in the shaping of policy.
More than 1600 young people have expressed interest in participation.
“The City of Barcelona is proud to be the first European Capital of Democracy,” said Mayor Ada Colau. “In a global context where hate speech and authoritarian projects are on the rise, cities are the place where we can work together with citizens to strengthen democracy.”
In February 2023, the call will open for cities to apply for the next title of ‘European Capital of Democracy’.