Doors to Democracy is a report on the current status of transparency and public participation (or the lack thereof) in environmental matters in Europe. Individual country reports prepared by researchers with NGOs in a wide selection of countries throughout Europe - 11 Western, 15 CEE and five NIS - report on both laws and actual practices with respect to access to information, access to environmental decisionmaking (public participation), and access to justice.
Doors to Democracy addresses the many barriers that stand in the way of participatory democracy as well as identifying some good practices.
The country reports were made available to the UN ECE for use in its review of the Sofia Guidelines on Access to Environmental Information and Public Participation in Environmental Decisionmaking.
"Doors to Democracy is a report on the current status of transparency and public participation in environmental matters in Europe. It is based on an examination of both laws and actual practices in 31 European countries, using a common questionnaire.
Doors to Democracy shows that although Europe is moving slowly in the direction of more participatory forms of democracy, major problems still exist in each of the main regions. Whereas Central and Eastern European countries tend to have constitutional provisions protecting rights to information, participation and justice, development of specific detailed laws capable of delivering these rights in practice is quite limited. In Western Europe, specific laws setting down concrete procedures are more developed, especially in the field of information, but there are large variations within the region. There is room for improvement in public participation laws and practices in all European countries.
Laws alone are not sufficient to create a truly participatory democracy. Cultural changes are needed, especially in countries with deeply entrenched customs based on official secrecy. Countries with a thriving NGO sector find that public participation is enhanced and better informed."