CEPS Project

Towards a Citizens’ Union (2CU)


As a tide of popular discontent sweeps the continent new political battle lines are being drawn between those who believe in an open, free and global society, and those who do not. The EU has been weakened by a series of referenda, most spectacularly in the UK. Whereas the message from anti-EU party leaders is one of ‘taking back control’, recent Eurobarometer polls suggest that European citizens support the euro and overwhelmingly want to see a better functioning EU in core areas such as migration and internal and external security. This evidence speaks for citizens ‘taking control’ of ‘their’ European Union. How the EU responds to this challenge will define the next era of integration. By showing value added and strengthening the participation of citizens and their representatives in decision-making, and the supervision and enforcement of commitments made by their governments, the EU can steal the demagogues’ thunder. It is this action which energises the European Policy Institutes Network (EPIN) to reinforce its network activities on the ‘citizens’ union’.

EPIN is a network of 40 renowned policy institutes specialising in EU affairs across 27 European countries. Through research and debate within and beyond the network, the partners intend to strengthen their mutual cooperation in EPIN, advance a broader understanding of the challenges and opportunities to enhance (i) participatory and (ii) representative democracy and (iii) accountability in the EU, and thereby strive “Towards a Citizens’ Union” (2CU).

2CU will organise research workshops (to simulate negotiations in the 3 key subject areas and to draft policy recommendations), “researchers-meet-EU policy-makers” seminars to gain feedback, and public outreach events to stimulate debate in capitals across Europe.

2CU will redesign EPIN’s website, produce a series of policy briefs, published online and disseminated widely, as well as a final report synthesising findings and offering policy recommendations.

Steven Blockmans

Director of Research

+32 (0)2 229 39 25

Sophia Russack


+32 (0)2 229 39 61

Deliberative Democracy in the EU

Countering Populism with Participation and Debate

Representative Democracy in the EU

Recovering Legitimacy

Direct Democracy in the EU

The Myth of a Citizens’ Union