A day before the International Day of Democracy, Barcelona unveiled its year-long programme as the European Capital of Democracy (ECoD). This remarkable initiative is set to kick off in October, transforming the city into a vibrant hub for democratic discourse and innovation. The programme encompasses a series of events and activities dedicated to nurturing democratic values, fostering civic engagement, and promoting political dialogue.
Barcelona’s selection as the inaugural European Capital of Democracy speaks volumes about its commitment to citizen participation and inclusivity. Mayor Jaume Collboni enthusiastically shared his anticipation for the programme year, emphasizing the significance of cities in the democratic landscape. He stated, “Cities are the places where democracy originated. They are also the places where we need to initiate a conversation on how to practice democracy in order to make it tangible, inclusive, and resilient. In the upcoming year, as the first-ever European Capital of Democracy, Barcelona aims to serve as an example for all European cities grappling with the challenge of defending democracy.”
The launch of the European Capital of Democracy Programme Year featured a significant address by Dubravka Šuica, Vice-President of the European Commission, a steadfast supporter of the initiative. Vice-President Šuica underscored the programme’s importance and its alignment with democratic values, noting that cities like Barcelona are hotbeds of innovation. She proclaimed, “Cities like Barcelona are a hive of innovation. The European Capital of Democracy will create a vibrant stage for innovation in democracy and best practices in action.”
As the international community was gearing up for the International Day of Democracy on September 15, Helfrid Carl, diplomat and the founder of ECoD, emphasized the importance of democracy. He remarked, „Democracy is slow. Democracy can produce flawed outcomes. And democracy must always be renewed. But just because in our democracies we must be very critical of the system, we should not overlook a basic fact: In the end, it is democracy that delivers for the people. And here in Barcelona we will show the world that democracy – with all its flaws – delivers.“
In closing, Minister of Foreign Affairs José Manuel Albares extended congratulations to ECoD and the City of Barcelona on behalf of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. This is only the beginning of a thrilling journey for Barcelona as it embarks on its role as the European Capital of Democracy. So, stay tuned, because this is an adventure that promises to ignite the passions of democracy advocates across Europe and beyond!
Watch the full programme presentation here.