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About European Capital of Democracy Initiative

What is ECOD?

A European Capital of Democracy will be designated for every year, starting in 2022 – as a Europe-wide initiative for strengthening democracy.

In cooperation with civil society and citizens, the designated city will curate, organise, and implement a wide range of activities and events. Visitors from all over Europe will be invited to observe and to participate in these efforts.

Applications will be open in autumn 2024, information will follow here.

Vision & Mission

Our Vision

We aim to establish a highly visible space where the citizens of Europe come together, get involved, experience new forms of participatory and inclusive democracy in action and draw inspiration from a comprehensive programme designed to bring democracy forward and build or rebuild trust. Best democratic practice will shine under the media spotlight.

Our mission

In cooperation with civil society and citizens, we strengthen democracy, act as a catalyst for democratic development, provide space for democratic innovation and exchange, and showcase groundbreaking work to improve politics. All that in order to experience new forms of participatory and inclusive democracy in action and to draw inspiration – across borders and beyond party lines.

Our Core Values

What ECoD focuses on



Community projects contribute to remarkable services, protecting the city’s inhabitants from harm by future-oriented policies and long-term planning.


Participation projects provide the city’s inhabitants with access to a range of tools to become an active part in decision-making processes.


Rapidly developing technology will profoundly shape the future of democracy. The opportunities presented by digitisation are infinite and so are the challenges it poses.


Empowerment projects enable the city to establish and maintain strong partnerships with civil society, academia and other relevant stakeholders.


Sustainability projects aim to foster an international discourse, supporting citizens and other cities in ensuring that radical climate transformation is a democratic, and not just a technocratic process.


Voices for democracy

We would like to thank all who have met our European Capital of Democracy initiative with enthusiasm and joined us in our efforts to make it real. They are politicians, political scientists, scholars, representatives of civil society and the business world, artists, engaged youths, and last not least our team. They all share fundamental democratic values and are committed to defending and supporting them.

Dubravka Šuica

“At this time of extraordinary difficulty and certainty, seeing this initiative taking shape and reaffirming the crucial role of our cities as strongholds and laboratories of democracy is reassuring and promising.”

Vice-President of the European Commission

Marija Pejčinović Burić

“European Capital of Democracy will provide the double benefit of highlighting democratic initiatives and providing the catalyst for more as cities compete to hold the title – and then reap the benefits that come with holding it.”

Secretary General of the Council of Europe


The Advisory Board

The Advisory Board serves as an independent sounding board for ECoD NPO and contributes by providing the experience and know-how of its members. It provides advice, suggestions and recommendations regarding the Programme Year and its projects.

Helfried Carl

Europe and its societies need new content and new models of politics so that we can overcome the big challenges facing us together and in a democratic way.

ECoD Founder and Advisory Board Member. Former Chief of Cabinet of the President of the Austrian Parliament; former Austrian Ambassador to Slovakia.

Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook

“We have to prove that our democracies are more innovative, faster, more functional and, in the end, better.”

Non-resident fellow with the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi). Former Director and CEO at German Council on Foreign Relations. Former Executive Director of the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS).

Ulrich Fuchs

“Cities play a major role as incubators of democracy, and of participation by citizens in courageous and innovative ways.”

Cultural advisor with teaching posts at several European universities. Former deputy managing and program director of Linz 2009 and Marseille-Provence 2013 – European Capital of Culture.

Tamara Ehs

“This is always an issue in democracy: expanding participation.”

Democracy scholar and independent consultant for democratic innovation and political education

Mariella Kasper

“I believe in European citizenship and see democracy as both its core and driving force for an ever more united Europe.”

Associate at FSM attorneys, specialised in corporate and commercial law, general civil law and public procurement law. Former clerk in the Austrian Parliament and legal intern in the jurisdiction of the Vienna Higher Regional Court.

Laura Thornton

“Autocrats are exchanging lessons learned along with surveillance technology and other methods of coercion. So we really have a job ahead of us to defend our democracies.

Director at the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund. Former director of global programs at International IDEA, a Stockholm-based intergovernmental think and do tank with the mission to advance democracy.

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