Web conference

France, Germany and the future of democracy in Europe

What was the event about?

While constituting a core principle of the European Union, democracy finds itself under pressure. The rise of populist parties, the disregard of the rule of law and the resulting democratic backsliding in some member states as well as the COVID-19 pandemic and its repercussions on civil liberties are a stress test for European democracies. The current challenges raise fundamental questions: What does democracy mean in 2020? And how can we imagine the future of democracy in France, Germany and Europe?  

The panel discussion went beyond the democratic challenges of today and will look into the future. On the member state level, the spotlight was on the upcoming German federal election in 2021 and the French presidential election in 2022 and their implications also for the EU as a whole. On the European level, expectations of the Conference on the Future of Europe were discussed. Building on citizens’ dialogue and consultations, the Conference provided a platform for citizens and stakeholders to discuss the future of Europe. The Conference gave an important impulse to European democracy – though current COVID-19 restrictions require to develop new innovative forms of citizens’ involvement. 

The panel discussion brought together high-ranking representatives from politics, research and civil society. It is part of the Franco-German Dialogue Series funded by the Federal Foreign Office.



Christophe Arend

  • Christophe Arend is Co-President of the Franco-German Parliamentary Assembly. As member of the French National Assembly (LREM) since 2017, he sits on the Commission for Sustainable Development and Town and Country Planning.

Franziska Brantner

  • Dr. Franziska Brantner is Spokeswoman for European Politics of the Greens, German Bundestag. Before, she has been a Member of the European Parliament.

Ellen Ehni

  • Ellen Ehni is the TV chief editor of Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) since 2018. Previously, she was presenting the ARD-GermanyTrend in the "tagesthemen". From 2007 to 2012, she was ARD television correspondent in Paris.

Gaëtane Ricard-Nihoul

  • Gaëtane Ricard-Nihoul is Deputy Head of the Citizens’ dialogues Unit in the European Commission. Previously, she worked for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as Deputy Secretary General for the Citizens Consultations on Europe and then Head of Department at the Mission Grand Débat.


Thu Nguyen

  • Dr. Thu Nguyen is Policy Fellow for EU Institutions and Democracy at the Jacques Delors Centre. Before joining the Hertie School, she was Assistant professor of EU and comparative constitutional law at Maastricht University.

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