In several countries of the European Union, although the ecological transition is on the agenda, its implementation faces a multitude of technical, economic, social and political obstacles. These difficulties are not independent of broader political contexts, which, despite differences between Member States, all share a certain number of characteristics: mistrust of the institutions; a feeling within different population groups of not being represented or understood by those making decisions at the national level; and very rapid changes in the ways in which information is disseminated and in forms of collective mobilisation.

In response, different types of citizen participation are being considered afresh simultaneously in several countries, with the goal of not only finding ways to launch the ecological transition, but also testing innovative forms of democracy that bridge the gap between public policy and the real-life situations of citizens. But what opportunities can citizen participation deliver? What role can it realistically be expected to play?

In France, the Citizens’ Convention for the Climate is about to start work, and current discussions on citizen participation in Germany, set against the country’s political history and past experience in this area, provide interesting insights to clarify and position what can be expected from the French system, but also which lessons should be drawn from it for ongoing or future experiments in other EU member states.

Patrizia Nanz, a political scientist and one of the leading experts in participation in Germany, Scientific Director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam, will present her analysis of the issues, challenges and potential role that citizen participation could play in the current German and EU political context.

Loïc Blondiaux, a leading figure in political science on participation in France, and a Professor at University of Paris I, will speak about the issues and challenges in the French context.