This afternoon, Members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) will discuss a working document looking at how the Conference on the Future of Europe can truly include the voice of citizens and civil society.
Ever since the European Commission laid out its plans for the Conference one year ago, divisions among the three main institutions about its design, goals and leadership have delayed any substantial progress and clarity on the format and organisation of this two-year democracy exercise. While the Conference is intended to be a bottom-up process, institutions currently show different levels of ambitions and commitment, leaving the role of citizens and civil society still to be defined.
The pandemic has been a further stumbling block on the already rocky road to launching the Conference. However, leaders such as Commission President von der Leyen have started to reshape its narrative, using the health and economic crises as a new opportunity for Europe and its citizens to rethink the EU’s competences, including in the area of health, via the Conference. Meanwhile, the European Parliament has been urging the Council to put forward a solid proposal for the structure and timeline of the Conference. And while a meeting of European affairs ministers earlier this month could bring no tangible results, the Portuguese Presidency has pledged to bring the Conference to life before the end of the semester.
- European Commission: Communication on Shaping the Conference on the Future of Europe
- European Parliament: Resolution on the Conference on the Future of Europe (June 2020)
- 27 January, 13:45-15:45: AFCO Committee Meeting
- 28-29 January: High-level Interdisciplinary Conference on the Future of Europe
The European Movement International position
As we argue in our policy position on “5 Ways to make the Conference on the Future of Europe Meaningful”, the Conference offers a timely opportunity to take stock of the state of the European Union, and to foster open and inclusive debates that can lead to a more democratic and resilient Union that delivers for its citizens. The European institutions, national governments, and civil society need to become allies in making the Conference a success and in creating an avenue for citizens to have their voices heard.
By avoiding the replication of already existing legislative processes, the Conference must be ambitious in its scope and tackle the most challenging issues Europe faces at the moment, including the current health and economic crises, the climate emergency, the management of immigration, the defence of the rule of law and human rights, and redefining international relationships. At the same time, we believe that the follow-up of the Conference remains essential, to ensure credibility in the exercise and to be able to translate any proposals from the Conference into constructive reforms and effective policy-making tools in a transparent manner.