The EESC’s conference on democracy in Europe continued with three working groups focused on ‘spaces for civil society in the European public sphere’, ‘key players to achieve a European common good’, and ‘rethinking solidarity in a society of individuals’ , with the workshop moderators reporting back to the plenary. Then the conference was closed with a keynote speech by Lousewies van der Laan. In addition to an illustrious political career, Lousewies is deeply involved in promoting democracy throughout the world and she spoke also from that internationalist perspective. Compared with undemocratic deserts elsewhere, she argued, Europe’s democratic garden is flowering. Yes, it needs constant tending and ‘gardeners’ but we should not forget that in relative terms our democratic systems are healthy and function well. She argued for a more voluntarist and pro-active approach from the bottom upwards, whilst also arguing against a form of intellectual snobbery that ‘doesn’t trust the people because the people might get it wrong’. And she spoke pointedly about ‘Europe’s knack of taking the right decisions, but in a way that alienates people.’ We should lead by example, she concluded; work together, and work through our democratic systems by mobilising our politicians and political parties as well as civil society organisations. Much food for thought!