Conference on the Future of Europe: and now?

After a long year of work, the Conference on the Future of Europe ended on May, 9. From this unprecedented European collaborative work, some fifty proposals, broken down into 300 actions, have emerged to improve the future of Europe.

The European citizens expect concrete resultats from the Conference on the Future of Europe. Foto: Philippe STIRNWEISS / © European Union 2022 / Source EP

(Elsa Woeffler) – It is a new and innovative process, an exercise in democracy in which citizens from all over Europe have taken part in different panels. To share their voices and their ideas on the future of Europe. The conference took place over the course of a year and allowed for concrete actions to be taken on issues relating mainly to economy, environment, European policy, social issues, but also health and ecological transition. The ultimate goal is to create a more united, more democratic Europe. In a joint declaration, the President of the European Parliament, the late David Sassoli, the Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, on behalf of the Council of the European Union, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, signed the declaration paving the way for new actions for a better Europe.

What happens next? If this exercise, which was on a grand scale since it brought together some 50,000 participants on the platform, more than 6,000 events as well as citizen panels of some 800 European participants and more than 17,000 ideas shared, remains a success just on paper, what will it be worth in a few months? On May, 9, Europe Day, the various contributors met in the European Parliament to hand over the ideas to the various institutions present. Finally, the three institutions will examine and follow up these proposals. However, they will be examined within the limits of their own sphere of competence and in accordance with the treaties. At the end of the period of examination of the final report of the Conference on the Future of Europe, an event will be organized in autumn 2022 to inform and give answers to the questions of European citizens.

If this process remains an unprecedented example of European citizen participation, for some, it corresponds to a simulacrum of participatory democracy and nothing more. The risk? That the fifty or so proposals and the 300 related actions will be forgotten by the European bureaucrats. And there are good reason to fear so and there is no shortage of examples: in France, during the Great Debate, the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, launched a citizen’s debate throughout France, in which questions and answers from French citizens and elected representatives were intertwined. Where are these conclusions? Forgotten. To this day, the participation of French citizens has remained on the sidelines.

The dynamic proposed by Europe to provide solutions and answers to the problems worked on and expressed by the European citizens of the panel of the Conference on the Future of Europe, is the right one. It is now time for the European institutions to honor the work of these citizens by providing concrete responses to the issues raised.

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