Policy Brief

Policy Brief on Populism – DIALOGUE ON EUROPE

2018 | Félix Blanc, Hanno Burmester, Elena Marcela Coman, Filipe Henriques, Sophie Pornschlegel, Julian Rappold, Judith Rohde-Liebenau, Nuno Vaz Silva

Civil society actors from six European countries present their policy recommendations on populism in Europe.

Dialogue on Europe: Civil society experts and practitioners wrote policy briefs on migration, populism, social cohesion and sustainable growth

Populism cannot be defeated by merely defending the status quo. Rather, it requires systemic transformations, alternative social, economic and political paradigms, and new narratives to combat the systemic roots of populism.

This conclusion lies at the root of the work done by the “Thinking Lab on Populism”, in which civil society actors from six European countries came together within the framework of the DIALOGUE ON EUROPE project. In their policy briefs, the Lab members analyse the root causes of populism in Europe and present solutions and policy recommendations to strategically tackle illiberal populism.

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Overview of the Policy Brief

Die insgesamt neun Handlungsempfehlungen des Thinking Labs zu Populismus konzentrieren sich vor allem die Vertrauensbildung zwischen BürgerInnen und politischen Parteien, PolitikerInnen und öffentlichen Institutionen. Im Mittelpunkt stehen dabei insbesondere systemische Änderungen, die tatsächlich die Ursachen des Erfolgs populistischer Parteien bekämpfen sollen. Die schlichte Verteidigung des Status quo, der populistische Erfolge in ganz Europa erst möglich machte, könne keine hinreichenden Lösungsansätze hervorbringen.

The nine policy recommendations of the Thinking Lab on Populism mainly focus on the creation of trust between citizens and political parties, politicians and public institutions. In tackling this existing lack of trust, systemic changes are a core necessity in order to fight the root causes of the populist parties’ success. The mere defence of the status quo that has enabled the populist successes in Europe cannot produce adequate solutions.

Policy Recommendations of the Thinking Lab on Populism:

  • Rebuild trust in democratic institutions and decision-making processes
  • Normalise change in politics and provide the infrastructure to adapt to it
  • Make the EU a driver of social mobility and cohesion
  • Implement and communicate decisions in a more citizen-centred manner
  • Foster adaptive, agile, and modern processes in democratic institutions
  • Foster a European understanding of democracy and the rule of law
  • Develop bold and distinctive political visions for a common future
  • Focus on inclusive community building and participation
  • Promote an open, inclusive and fair public debate on key issues.

Background: The DIALOGUE ON EUROPE Project

The European Union has been affected by a multi-dimensional crisis for almost a decade. This period has shown that the traditional political responses of international summitry have reached the limits of their impact. The current and upcoming challenges faced by the European project can only be confronted through a strong and connected civil society across the continent.

The trans-European project DIALOGUE ON EUROPE, an initiative by Das Progressive Zentrum supported by the German Federal Foreign Office, took up this idea by bringing together young dedicated civil society actors from France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain to start a transnational dialogue about Europe’s most pressing challenges.

In four so-called Thinking Labs, young thinkers developed policy recommendations over the course of two and a half years for four main policy fields: Migration & Integration, Populism, Social Cohesion and Sustainable Growth.

The results of this exchange can be found in four policy briefs that aim at stimulating and enriching the debate on the future agenda of the European Union.


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published on

19 March 2018