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The future of democracy in Reggio Emilia, Italy

On 19th January, the first plenary meeting of the newly formed Reggio Emilia district councils 'Consulte' was held in the Cloisters of San Pietro. The event was attended by 110 citizens - the elected neighbourhood representatives, policymakers, civil society activists, together with mayor Luca Vecchi and the councillor for participation Lanfranco de Franco.

The meeting was an occasion for the Consulte members to get to know each other, share opinions, and work on the underlying problems and the future of their local democracy.

The future of democracy

In 9 groups, corresponding to the 9 districts of the Consulte, participants assigned words they think represent the future they want to see.

To the Consulte members, the future democracy of Reggio Emilia is one that promotes social inclusion, a sense of community, connection, trust, and open exchange among its citizens. It embraces hospitality and facilitates volunteering and youth participation. It looks after the environment and makes the neighbourhoods better places to live in for the residents.

Pictured: District B's word association to the future of their neighbourhood, District D working on defining the future, and District B presenting the actions they proposed

The recipe for change

What needs to be changed, and what actions are needed to realise their envision futures? Participants mapped out the issues, solutions and steps pertinent to the future of their neighbourhoods.

For instance, the representatives of District G voiced and recognised the needs to: (1) improve air quality and waste management within the district; (2) look after social infrastructures including schools, hospitals, and recreational places; and (3) create a sense of belonging among residents. The actions set forth are those relating to infrastructure maintenance, social services, and family engagement.

Many of these actions will be integrated into the dialogues between the district councils and the city administration for the next 5 years. Following this workshop, the Consulte members will start identifying the topics of main interest in each territory to focus on in the coming months, up to drafting of the Area Agreements by 31st October.

The priorities feasible within the scope of EUarenas are:

  • To facilitate participation and inclusiveness and opportunities to share ideas and solutions

  • To decrease bureaucracy and the complexity involved in communications between citizens and administration

  • To understand the challenges in order to provide citizens with satisfying explanations and solutions

  • To allow citizen participation in the process of designing public policies, specifically on the promotion of well-being and active citizenship

You can watch the workshop report here:


Other scenario workshops at the local level are being organised in Helsink (Finland), Gdansk (Poland), and Voru (Estonia). A pan-European workshop will be held in Berlin in May 2023, where policy-makers, citizens, academics, practitioners, and the EUarenas Community of Practice will unite to co-envision the future of democracy in Europe. Stay tune!

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