Today a large majority of European citizens feels very uncomfortable about the lack of solutions for the ongoing economic-financial crisis. The EU institutions and the member states are engaged in intensive dialogues with each other while ignoring the necessity to translate the crisis into clear political terms understandable for public opinion. This may be one of the explanations of the disconnection of public opinion from the integration process which is often leading to a support for populist and nationalist movements. At the same time this crisis has made Europe more important than ever before for the daily lives of citizens. It is therefore important to support projects that allow citizens and civil society at large to become involved in EU affairs. Apart from the “Europe for Citizens program” (2014–2020) there are, although very few, examples in EU policy making where the sphere of public debate has been widened up, allowing citizens to participate more intensively in the democratic life of the Union. In the rural development pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) a “participatory democracy” tool has been created in order to stimulate from the grassroots the economic growth of rural areas: the Leader initiative.
Van de Poele, L. (2015), "Rural Development from the Grassroots: Twenty Years of the EU “Leader Approach”", Constructing a New Framework for Rural Development (Research in Rural Sociology and Development, Vol. 22), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 195-207. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1057-192220150000022007
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