Participatory budgeting in Cologne: focus on online consultation

Best Practice | Gast | 23.04.2013

Launched in: 2007


Received the United Nations Public Sector Award (2008) for being a shining example of ‘Promoting participation in political decision-making processes through innovative mechanisms’

Received the European Public Sector Award (2009) for involving citizens significantly in budget planning through an innovative Internet platform

Ideas competition of NRW-Bank 2008

Awarded the audience prize at the E-Government Competition 2008 for Germany’s Federal, State and Local Governments

Distinctive features:

Online platform as the central channel of participation in a multi-channel process, low threshold for participation, rotating themes

The citizens of Cologne have been participating in the municipal budget since 2007. The ‘Cologne model’ has set a standard for numerous PB processes in Germany. Its key feature is the use of the Internet as the main channel in a multi-channel procedure. Using the website, citizens can submit, discuss and rate their own and each other’s proposals. The provision of accountability and monitoring of implementation of the citizens’ proposals also take place online. The threshold for participating on the online platform is low, requiring only a username and a password. Citizens who do not have Internet access can submit proposals though a call centre or in writing. Thanks also to its intensive public relations work, Cologne achieved very high active participation rates of 11,000 and 14,000 in its first and second participatory budgets.

The PB process in Cologne is consultative and theme-based. Citizens can submit, comment on and rate proposals on expenditure and cost saving for specific budget areas. The council decides on the top proposals from the list of the best, and subsequently provides accountability.

Further information on PB in Cologne:

Online platform for PB in Cologne:

Profile on the website: Profile