Digital democracy: how ICT tools can change the relationship between citizens and governments

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Ladies and gentlemen

You’ve been talking about the role of public communication. How it can connect those who govern with those who are governed. And how it could build confidence in public institutions.

Today I want to talk to you about what new digital, online tools mean in that sphere. And how we can best promote them.

The internet and ICT can change our economy. It’s a highly productive investment, helping companies work more productively, helping people access more opportunity, creating jobs and boosting growth.

But those digital tools can also support democracy itself. Changing—and improving—the relationship between governments and citizens. Supporting democratic freedoms, democratic accountability, and effective governance.

Not just for EU Institutions: but for every kind of public administration, at every level, in every country; in and outside the EU.

First, remember that underpinning democracy are many rights and freedoms. The right to self-expression; the safeguard of a free and pluralist media; the freedom to contest, challenge and criticise. Those are rights we treasure in Europe. And online tools promote and support them.

Outside Europe, we’ve seen this stark power. We saw that in the Arab Spring; we still see it today. This tool can reveal the repression of regimes to the whole world. Take the amazing story of Malala Yousafzai, who since the age of 11 has been blogging about life under Taliban tyranny, and calling for the right to women’s education. Here to read more.

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