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How to apply to become the European Capital of Democracy 2026

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Becoming European Capital of Democracy is a unique opportunity for cities within the Council of Europe member states and Kosovo.

The city holding this title enjoys a wide range of benefits, such as an enhanced international reputation as a centre of innovation, the chance to host international events and meetings with leading European politicians, and of course a boost to civic pride.

Based on transparent criteria (see below), an Experts’ Jury draws up a Shortlist three outstanding contenders. The Citizens’ Jury, a network of over 4,000 engaged Europeans, will then select the European Capital of Democracy 2026.

The third ECoD Call for submissions

The call for applications will be open from 1 September to 31 October 2024. The following stages ensure a fair and open selection process for the title of European Capital of Democracy 2026:

1. APPLICATION ﹣ CITIES (1 September – 31 October 2024)
2. ADMISSION ﹣ ECoD NPO (November 2024)
3. EVALUATION ﹣ EXPERTS’ JURY (December 2024 – February 2025)
4. SELECTION ﹣ CITIZENS’ JURY (March 2025)

Interested Cities submit their applications, including a mission statement and project descriptions, together with an organisational, technical, and democratic self-evaluation. ECoD NPO screens the applications and documents for admissibility and completeness, including a check of the prerequisites (see below), and informs Applicant Cities about their admission to the European City Network and about the next steps.

The Experts’ Jury then evaluates all the applications, visits the most promising contenders, and draws up a shortlist of three Nominee Cities. The Citizens’ Jury selects the European Capital of Democracy from the list of Nominee Cities.

Cities must submit a full application by 31 October 2024, including
– a technical, organisational, and democratic self-evaluation
– a mission statement
– an executive summary
– 3 flagship Democracy Projects and 3 future Project Ideas, which will form a part of the upcoming Democracy Year
by 31 October 2024.

Click here to download the previous call document and all Annexes.

Your benefits as Capital of Democracy

International reputation

The city will gain an enhanced international reputation as a centre of innovation.

Host impactful events

The city will get the chance to host international events and meetings of leading European politicians.

Civic pride

The city will enjoy heightened civic pride.

Your city is interested?
We will update you as soon as the Call is ready for publishing:

What do we mean by Democracy?We take a broad view of democracy, and a “democracy project” is any initiative with encompasses one of more of the Dimensions of Democracy:

Evaluation Criteria

The Experts’ Jury assesses the Applicant City’s Mission Statement, Democracy Projects and Ideas, and the local context according to the following criteria:
Collaboration: Active partnerships with other organisations, institutions, and stakeholders
– Exchange: Communication, dissemination, and sharing of local initiatives
– Innovation: Ambition and appeal of the programme and its main activities
– Organisation: Management capacity, project and budget resources
Output: Planned activities and dissemination measures, and how effectively they will reach the target audiences, media and citizens

The Mission Statement indicates the City’s ambition and motivation to participate in the ECoD Initiative and include an awareness of the City’s strengths and challenges.

The Democracy Projects form the core of the Application, described in an informative way which includes  an organisational and financial perspective. Each project should link back to the Mission Statement and one of more of the Dimensions of Democracy. The projects’ innovation and impact are extremely important factors, as well as  the level of acceptance/use by the target audiences (citizens); economic and environmental sustainability; Civil Society involvement; and, the relevance of the topic/project on a European scale / for other regions.

The Project Ideas showcase what’s in the pipeline for the next few years. Here, the power of the ideas presented and the ambition behind them are assessed, as well as their political support and chances of realisation.

The Local Context is also assessed, in terms of the organisational capacity of the City; active partnerships with other organisations, institutions, and stakeholders; potential reach of citizens (communication and budget ressources); and, the level of cooperation with Civil Society Organisations.

Prerequisites
– Within the Council of Europe, plus Kosovo
– At least 100,000 inhabitants
– No municipal elections between March 2025 (winner’s announcement) and January 2026 (start of the programme year)
– Upholding democratic values of free, fair and regular elections of local government

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