Participatory Democracy in the CJEU Case Law: Challenges and Implications for the EU

Innovative developments in EU participatory democracy have recently led to a number of significant CJEU judgments that directly address the challenges it poses to the Community Method, particularly in the European Citizens’ Initiative case law. Having analysed these judgments, this paper explores the Court’s interpretation of participatory democracy in light of other key EU principles raised in the judgments, such as conferral, openness, and the Commission’s right of legislative initiative. The paper argues that, although the Court strives to defend the importance of citizen participation, there is an inherent conflict between the EU institutional framework and supranational participatory democracy, and the Treaties need to continue to evolve to mitigate its impact. The paper concludes with a discussion of the institutional changes that the EU might need to implement if effective citizen participation is to become a reality in the EU.