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Citizens’ participation at the local level in Europe and Neighbouring Countries

Contribution of the Association of Local Democracy Agencies

Edited By Antonella Valmorbida

ALDA – The Association of Local Democracy Agencies – is an organisation dedicated to the promotion of good governance and citizen participation at the local level. It is made up of over 160 members comprising local authorities and civil society organisations in the enlarged Europe.
Recently, new forms of interaction between citizens and decision makers have been put in place. By analysing ALDA’s 15 years of hands-on activities with its members and partners, this publication contributes to a better understanding of the added value of citizen participation at the local level in Europe and its neighbouring countries.
This book brings together the work of the Director and staff of ALDA and of the Local Democracy Agencies, as well as numerous practices and voices from the members and partners of its vast network. Through the field experiences presented, ALDA shows how and why citizen participation leads to the adoption of better solutions, and, at the same time, fosters long lasting, balanced development.
This publication formulates conclusions and offers insightful input for future activities aiming at building truly democratic local democracy. It is therefore particularly useful for all those who intend to work within the recently adopted programme ‘Europe for Citizens’ 2014–2020, as well as to bridge the topics of active citizenship and development – the focus of the European Years 2013 and 2015.
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Chapter 7. Citizen Participation in Enlargement and Neighbouring Countries: Comparing Frameworks, Experiences and Outcomes

← 162 | 163 → CHAPTER 7


The Eastern Partnership Agreement was signed by the EU and six countries of Eastern Europe: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus. It started on the impulse of the Czech and Swedish governments, in particular, identifying conditions and mechanisms to approach these countries to the EU, supporting the consolidation of democracy, the respect of human rights, the development of a market economy and facilitating exchanges of goods and people. Without talking about new membership to the EU, it mentions a rapprochement and a possible Association Agreement.1

Our topics of interest, citizens participation in the decision making at the local level, meets numerous difficulties in the EaP countries for several relevant reasons. It has to be said that – depending on which countries – some of the processes have been developed or/in contrary slowed down in these years.

All the countries are still enduring the effects of the Soviet era, that is a centralised system and a widespread passiveness among citizens. Decentralisation started to be addressed with the recent public administrative reforms, which established local and regional authorities in all the countries mentioned, in particular in view of joining the Council of Europe (at the end of the 1990s).2 As it is known, all of them are now member states of the Council of Europe, except Belarus who never achieved the process of accession. The awareness of citizens (and capacities) to be organised at the local level and to develop policy-making activities are ← 163 | 164 → rather limited and...

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