President Macron’s idea of holding ‘democratic conventions’ across Europe provides a genuine opportunity to help improve the public’s trust and engagement in European decision-making. But at the same time there is a risk that unrealistic expectations will be raised, and a poorly-implemented strategy could do more harm than good.

In this paper, we lay out a detailed and ambitious framework to ensure that the idea delivers on its potential, while minding the pitfalls. It involves a bottom-up strategy, operating at local, national and European levels, designed to discuss specific policy proposals and shape a reform agenda. The paper includes a visual depiction of the strategy’s timeline (Annex 1), a set of possible questions for the agenda (Annex 2), and guidelines for reporting the results of each convention (Annex 3).

If the strategy is followed, with the outcome of discussions feeding into the 2019 European Parliament election campaign, there is a real chance that the idea will bring European citizens closer to their political leaders, and closer to each other.