On Europe Day, the Presidents of the European Parliament, Commission and Council received the final report with proposals to reform the EU.
In a closing ceremony today in Strasbourg, President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola, on behalf of the Council Presidency, President Emmanuel Macron, and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen received from the Co-Chairs of the Conference Executive Board the final report on the outcome of the Conference.
This unprecedented, one-year journey of discussion, debate and collaboration between citizens and politicians culminated in a report centred around 49 proposals that include concrete objectives and more than 320 measures for the EU institutions to follow up on under nine topics:
climate change and the environment;
a stronger economy, social justice and jobs;
EU in the world;
values and rights, rule of law, security, digital transformation, European democracy, migration, education, culture, youth and sport.
The proposals are based on recommendations made by citizens who met within the European Citizens’ Panels, National Citizens’ Panels and contributed their ideas on the Multilingual Digital Platform.
President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, said:
“Citizens – especially young people – are at the heart of our vision for the future of Europe. They have directly shaped the outcome of the Conference. We are at a defining moment of European integration and no suggestion for change should be off-limits. We should not be afraid to unleash the power of Europe to change people’s lives for the better.”
President Emmanuel Macron commented:
“Through the crises that we have gone through collectively in recent years, Europe has changed. We must continue this development and ensure that the Union lives up to the aspirations and expectations expressed by the citizens. The Conference on the Future of Europe, which we are closing today, is a unique exercise and unprecedented in its scope, a breath of fresh air for our continent. Its conclusions constitute a very rich source of proposals, which each institution must examine within the framework of its competences. The Council will have the opportunity to express itself in the coming weeks. As this exercise is coming to an end under the French Presidency, I thank the previous presidencies for their commitment and am happy to hand over the follow-up to be given to the conclusions of the Conference to the Czech and Swedish presidencies.”
President Ursula von der Leyen said:
“Democracy, peace, individual and economic freedom. This is what Europe stands for today when the war rages again on our continent. This is at the heart of the Conference on the future of Europe. The European Union has to continue to deliver on European citizens’ expectations. Today, their message has been received loud and clear. And now, it is time to deliver.”
Over the last year, through a multitude of events and discussions organised across the EU, national and European citizens’ panels, plenary meetings as well as exchanges on the dedicated Multilingual Digital Platform, the Conference became a truly open forum to discuss the Europe we want to live in. It enabled a transparent, inclusive and structured debate with European citizens about the issues that are of relevance to them and for their future.
The three institutions will now examine how to follow up effectively on these proposals, each within their own spheres of competence and in accordance with the Treaties.
A feedback event will take place to update citizens in autumn 2022.
The Conference on the Future of Europe has been a novel and innovative process, a bottom-up exercise for Europeans to have their say on what they expect from the European Union. European citizens of different geographic origin, gender, age, socioeconomic background and/or level of education participated in the Conference, with young Europeans playing a central role.
For More Information
President Ursula von der Leyen‘s speech in Strasbourg
Extracts of closing ceremony will be available on EbS.
Further reactions ->
Speech by President von der Leyen at the closing event of the Conference on the Future of Europe
9 May 2022
« Nous devons penser et planifier une Europe unie comme si chaque jour il était possible de la créer immédiatement, rejetant la lassitude de ceux qui la renvoient toujours à demain. Le possible, s’il est vraiment possible, nous pouvons commencer à le réaliser aujourd’hui. »
President Metsola, dear Roberta,
Président Macron, cher Emmanuel,
Prime Minister Costa, querido António,
Dear Dubravka Šuica,
Dear Guy Verhofstadt,
Cher ministre, Clément Beaune,
But most and foremost, my dear and fellow Europeans,
On this very special day of Europe, I could not think of a more fitting way to start than by using these words of Ursula Hirschmann. For those who do not know her story, Ursula Hirschmann was an architect and builder of today’s free and united Europe. She resisted the rise of Nazism in Berlin in the early 1930s – she shaped the future of Europe on the island of Ventotene in the 1940s – she pioneered women’s rights all across Europe.
The courage of her actions and of her convictions helped to make Europe what it is today. I start with this picture because, for Europe, the memory of our past has always framed our future. And that is all the more important at a time when the unthinkable has returned to our continent. Russia’s flagrant attempts to redraw maps and to rewrite even the most tragic parts of our history have reminded us of the dangers of losing our grip on both our past and our future. Of living in a perpetual present and thinking that things can never be different. That there cannot be better ways of doing things. And even worse: That things will always stay the same if only we do not change. That is so wrong! Standing still is falling back.
But this Conference has shown us that Europeans are determined not to make this mistake. You have told us that you want to build a better future by living up to the most enduring promises of the past. Promises of peace and prosperity, fairness and progress; of a Europe that is social and sustainable, that is caring and daring. Just like Ursula Hirschmann and all those who went before us.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This Conference has spoken clearly. And I am delighted to see so many of you here today. Through your 49 proposals and more than 300 measures, you have weaved and crafted a vision of a Europe that delivers on what matters most, that helps to make everyday life better, that is not confined to one place but is at your side when you need it. On every day priorities – such as the air we breathe and the food we eat, the education that we give our children and the houses that we bring them up in.
It is a vision of a Europe that pools its strengths and capacities and diversity to tackle the biggest challenges – from climate change or nature loss, to pandemics or security in our region. A Europe that has a stronger capacity to activate and uphold its values and the rule of law. A Europe that is able to provide for itself in vital areas, from energy to food, from materials to medicines, from digital chips to green technologies. A Europe that delivers unique social protections and benefits all the way through these major transitions.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I want to address every single one of you who took part in this Conference: Your message has been well received. And now, it is time to deliver. That is what I promised when I stood for election in this very House, two and a half years ago. And together, we have proven that we can do just that with the powers that already exist – even amidst the pandemic or a war. Whether procuring billions of vaccines for citizens across Europe and our neighbourhood, or kick-starting the economy after the pandemic through NextGenerationEU. Whether setting an ambitious and legally binding path to climate neutrality, or setting the rules of the game in the digital world, or supporting small businesses to retain their staff during the pandemic.
None of this – none – would have been explicitly foreseen in the Treaties, but it was possible. And we did it together – because Europeans expected their Union to step up. Next month already, we will set out what is needed to bring your proposals to life and respond the best we can. In some areas, your proposals give us a push to speed up work already ongoing – for example on the European Green Deal or on making society fairer. So that means accelerating negotiations on the Fit for 55 Package so that we can boost renewable energies, that we can save energy and finally wean ourselves off fossil fuels. It has to be like this. And it means ensuring that our proposal on minimum wages becomes law so that work pays for all.
In other areas, we have already started the work you have asked for. The Health Working Group, for example, proposed creating a European Health Data Space, which would facilitate the exchange of health data across borders. My Commission delivered on this last week with a proposal. And in the next weeks and months, we will bring out proposals, you have been asking for. For example, restoring our nature, or cutting down waste coming from packaging, or banning products made by forced labour from entering our European market. On all of these upcoming ideas, we will look closely at your proposals so that we can best cater for what you have been asking for.
The point is, there is already a lot we can do without delay. And that also goes for those recommendations which will need us to take new action. So to make sure that we follow up swiftly, I will announce the first new proposals responding to your report in my State of the Union Address in September already. But, my fellow Europeans, even beyond this, there is a need to go further. For example, I have always argued that unanimity voting in some key areas simply no longer makes sense if we want to be able to move faster. Or that Europe should play a greater role – for example, in health or defence, after the experience of the last two years. And we need to improve the way our democracy works on a permanent basis. I want to be clear that I will always be on the side of those who want to reform the European Union to make it work better.
The point is, you have told us where you want this Europe to go. And it is now up to us to take the most direct way there, either by using the full limits of what we can do within the Treaties, or, yes, by changing the Treaties if need be.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear fellow Europeans,
‘Democracy has not gone out of fashion, but it must update itself in order to keep improving people’s lives.’ Those are the words of David Sassoli – a great European, who stood here a year ago, together with you, dear António Costa, to launch this Conference. We all miss him dearly and I have a very special place for him in my heart today.
And I feel pride that citizens from every corner of Europe have brought to life his vision of a vibrant and modern European democracy. We saw it in the National Citizens’ Panels, such as those held right across France. And we saw it in the European Citizens’ Panels – from Dublin to Natolin, from Florence to Maastricht. It connected men and women who have never engaged with Europe before. Different stories, different languages, different identities; but one shared future to build on.
You have proven that this form of democracy works. And I believe, we should give it more room, it should become part of the way we make policy. This is why I will propose that, in the future, we give Citizens’ Panels the time and resources to make recommendations before we present key legislative proposals. Because I am convinced that democracy does not end with elections, conferences or conventions. It needs to be worked on, nurtured and improved every day. We saw it in the grassroots events held right across Europe. Whether debating biodiversity in Varna, gender-based violence in Lisbon, or democracy and subsidiarity in Budapest. And we saw it, indeed, in the image of Linda, the young mother – we saw her earlier this day – speaking about the future in this very hemicycle while holding her baby born, halfway through the Conference.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is the image I want us to celebrate on 9 May. An image far more powerful than any military parade going up and down the streets of Moscow as we speak. And I want this image to remind us to never ever take for granted what Europe is and what it means. Europe is a dream. A dream that always was. A dream born from tragedy.
But today, that dream shines brightest not only here in this historic place. It shines brightest in the hearts and the minds of the people of Kyiv and Kharkiv, of Odessa and Mariupol. It shines brightest in the courage of those families and young people bunkered down in subways and basements. It shines brightest in the courage of those mourning the senseless, mindless atrocities in Bucha, and in Irpin, and in every Ukrainian village and town struck by war. And it shines brightest in the eyes of all those young Ukrainians who have found a refuge in Europe – a home away from home. Those people, my fellow Europeans, – young and old – are willing to fight and to die for their future and for that dream of Europe. That dream that always was. That dream that must always be.
So I want to finish with a message. This morning, I had a videoconference with President Zelenskyy. And he wanted to virtually hand me over his answers to the questionnaire of the Commission for the accession process he has applied to. It is more than 5,000 pages he handed over to me. And therefore, I want to give a very special message to our Ukrainian friends and family. The future of Europe is also your future. The future of our democracy is also the future of your democracy. 72 years ago, war in Europe was replaced with something different, something new. First a Community, today a Union. It was the day when the future began. It is a future that we have been writing together ever since – as architects and builders of Europe. And the next page, dear Ukrainian friends, is now being written by you. By us. By all of us together.
Metsola: This is the moment to answer Europe’s call
President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola received citizens’ contributions for a better, stronger and fairer Europe during the Conference on the Future of Europe closing ceremony.
In her speech, President Metsola spoke about the reality of a gap which exists between what people expect and what Europe is able to deliver at the moment, particularly in the areas of health, energy and security. She also said that the future of Europe is tied to future of Ukraine.
President Metsola’s speech can be found below.
President Von der Leyen,
Prime Minister Costa,
I am so proud to be here today as we come to this milestone in this unique exercise in active citizenship. In Europe building. In future proofing our foundations.
Among the many speeches we hear today, I think there is one message that we can take away today: Europe’s future is yet unwritten and our story depends on you, on all of us.
This debate took on a new reality on February 24th – when President Putin ordered his army to invade Ukraine. An act of medieval aggression that has changed the world.
The post-February 24th world is a very different one. A more dangerous one. Europe’s role has changed with it. We cannot afford to lose any more time.
How we have responded to the invasion and how we must continue to respond is the litmus test of our values. The unity and resolve of our response has confounded critics and made us proud to be European. That must be the blueprint going forward.
But as we speak here, Ukraine is still being invaded. Bombs are still killing indiscriminately. Women are still being raped. Millions have fled and will continue to do so. People are still trapped in the tunnels under Mariupol.
Ukrainians look to Europe for support. Because they know what millions of Europeans who were forced to spend half a century behind the yoke of the iron curtain will tell you: There is no alternative to Europe.
The future of Europe is tied to the future of Ukraine. The threat we face is real. And the cost of failure is momentous.
And I ask: how will history judge our actions? Will future generations read about the triumph of multilateralism over isolationism? The cementing of an inter-dependent relationship between nations and people who are proud of their differences as Laura said earlier, but who understand that in this new world, the future can only be together?
That is all up to us. That is our responsibility. And let me tell you here today that the European Parliament will fight for a stronger Europe and all of what Europe means. That means freedom, democracy, the rule of law, justice, solidarity, equality of opportunity.
That means that we must listen more than we speak. This exercise must be about you. About our project working for people in villages and towns and regions across Europe.
Europe has a proud history. We have created the common market, ensured enlargement to successive States, embraced universal suffrage, eliminated internal borders, created a common currency and enshrined fundamental rights into our treaties. Our European project has been a success story. It may not be perfect but we represent a bastion of liberal democracy, of personal freedoms, of liberty of thought, of safety and security. That inspires millions in Europe and around the world.
However, this Conference also proves that there exists a gap between what people expect, and what Europe is able to deliver at the moment. That is why we need a convention as the next step. And that is what the European Parliament will insist on. There are issues that simply cannot wait.
That is true for defence. We need a new security and defence policy because we know that we need each other, that alone we are vulnerable. And here we do not have to reinvent the wheel. We can complement rather than compete with existing alliances.
It is true for energy. We are still too reliant on autocrats. Where Energy islands still exist. Where we must support each other as we disentangle ourselves from the Kremlin and invest in alternative energy sources. Where we understand that renewable energy is as much about security as it is about the environment. But we can only do that together.
This is also true for climate change. The challenge of a generation that Europe has proudly led the global charge on.
It is true for health, where we must heed the lessons of the pandemic and make our health systems interconnected, share information and pool resources. When the next virus hits us, we cannot let it shut down our lives. Our first instinct cannot be to re-create the borders of the past.
It is true for our economic model, where we must ensure enough flexibility without tying the hands for generations to come. Where we are able to create the jobs we need to thrive.
It is true for migration, as we heard in the videos and testimonies, where we still need a system that is fair with those in need of protection, that is firm with those who are not, but that is strong against those who abuse the most vulnerable people on the planet.
It is true for equality and solidarity. Our Europe must remain a place where you can be who you wish to be, where your potential is not impacted by your birthplace, your gender, or sexual orientation. A Europe that stands up for our rights – for women, for minorities, for us all. A Europe that leaves nobody behind.
In all these areas and more, I want Europe to lead. Because if not us, it will simply be someone else.
This Conference on the Future of Europe involved hundreds of thousands of people across Europe. This has been an intense experience in the power of participatory democracy after months of discussions and powerful debate. I want to thank you for believing in the promise of Europe.
And I want to specifically thank Guy Verhofstadt and Dubravka Šuica and the different Presidencies of the Council – Prime Minister Costa, Minister Clement Beaune here today – thank you for leading this process. I also want to thank our late President David Sassoli who would be so proud. He would be so proud today. And of course none of this could have been done without all the staff, and I ask you please to applaud the staff of the European Parliament and the institutions who really worked for this to happen. I thank you all, for believing in this exercise, for fighting for Europe, for facing down the cynics.
It is easier to be cynical, to be populist, to look inwards but we should expose populism, cynicism and, nationalism for what they are: false hope sold by those with no answers. Those who are afraid to forge the hard and long road of progress.
Europe has never been afraid. Now it is time to step up and not step back.
We are once again at a defining moment of European integration and no suggestion for change should be off-limits. Whatever process is required in order for us to get there should be embraced.
As a student, I got involved in politics because I believed my generation’s place was Europe. I believe still. We see no old and no new Europe. We see no big and small States. We understand that ideas are bigger than geography.
That feeling, 18 years ago, when 10 countries including my own, joined the EU is a moment that will remain with me forever. We counted the seconds to midnight on May Day and you could feel the joy, the hope, the passion with which people believed. People today in Ukraine, in Georgia, in Moldova and still in the Western Balkans are looking to us with the same sense of purpose. Of course, every country must follow its own path, but we should not be afraid to unleash the power of Europe to change people’s lives for the better, as it did for my country.
Finally, we are gathered here on Europe Day, during the year dedicated to youth, in the seat of the European Parliament, in Strasbourg. There is nowhere more symbolic of the power of democracy, of the power of Europe to take the next step, together.
This is the moment to answer Europe’s call. This is our time.
Non-paper by Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, and Sweden on the outcome of and follow-up to the Conference on the Future of Europe
Published 09 May 2022
The Conference on the Future of Europe has been an unprecedented democratic exercise. It has facilitated inspiring dialogue with – and between – citizens across Europe on how they see the role for the EU in the years to come. We welcome the ideas and proposals that citizens have put forward.
The Conference has demonstrated a clear and positive interest in discussing real policies and specific results that affect citizens in their daily lives. So have the national debates with citizens across member states.
The ideas presented by citizens at the Conference should speak for themselves and deserve a serious follow-up. They should not be instrumentalised to serve special institutional interests.
We look forward to studying the Conference report and the specific proposals carefully. In that regard, we recall that each institution will follow up according to their own Rules of Procedure and in accordance with the agreed rules of the Conference. We also recall that any decisions will be made within the division of competences established by the Treaty and with full respect for key principles such as subsidiarity and proportionality.
We recall that Treaty change has never been a purpose of the Conference. What matters is that we address the citizens’ ideas and concerns. While we do not exclude any options at this stage, we do not support unconsidered and premature attempts to launch a process towards Treaty change. This would entail a serious risk of drawing political energy away from the important tasks of finding solutions to the questions to which our citizens expect answers and handling the urgent geopolitical challenges facing Europe.
The EU’s handling of the crises in recent years – including COVID-19 and Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine – have clearly shown how much the EU can deliver within the current Treaty framework. The EU has acted quickly to find – and implement – common and effective solutions. We already have a Europe that works. We do not need to rush into institutional reforms in order to deliver results.
As regards the Conference, we look forward to engaging constructively in the work ahead – based on the citizens’ ideas and wishes for the future of Europe.
Committee of the Regions: It’s time for the EU to be closer to its people – A greater role for local and regional government can help restore trust in the EU
09/05/2022 | Future of Europe
The brutal invasion of Ukraine has been a reminder that, despite their differences, the EU’s 27 member states are closely bound by a commitment to peace, common fundamental values, democracy and solidarity. Yet public trust in the EU remains low: the recent French Presidential election results are a moment of relief not celebration, with 41% voting for the far right. Today, on Europe Day, after a year of discussions held through the Conference on the Future of Europe, it is time to have an honest reflection on how to reform the way the EU works so it is more effective, more responsive and closer to the people it serves.
The pandemic and the humanitarian response to the war in Ukraine have shown that during times of crisis the EU depends on its regions, cities and villages. Brave mayors have stood with their people in Ukraine, while the Polish, Romanian and Hungarian border regions provide aid and shelter to the large majority of the over 5 million Ukrainian refugees. Cities and regions across the European Union are collecting food, medicine and first aid supplies and sending them to Ukraine.
EU local and regional authorities support millions of Ukrainian refugees in other ways as well, providing them with access to the labour market, housing, education and other social services. The EU has been swift to support these local and regional authorities, allowing them to use unspent EU funds to help tackle the new emergency. The European Commission has used EU cohesion policy – regional funds – to support the regions welcoming refugees. The need for cohesion, as an investment and value, has never been clearer.
The war in Ukraine has also put the EU’s energy security under severe strain and is increasing energy poverty, which already affects more than 30 million Europeans. The decision to continue to buy Russia gas and oil to maintain stability has failed. With citizens and young people in particular worried about the climate emergency, there can be no turning back to fossil fuels. The EU must accelerate the transition to a carbon-neutral economy. Local and regional authorities are playing a role in decentralising energy production, boosting investment in clean energy and financing the renovation of buildings.
For more than a decade, opinion polls have shown that local and regional governments are the most trusted level of government. The reason for this is simple: local government is part of people’s daily life, listening and responding to their needs and acting on their wishes. Local and regional elected representatives also deliver 70% of EU laws in our territories. Yet this key role is not properly reflected in process that makes those laws at the EU level.
It is time for this vital role to be upgraded, through the European Committee of the Regions, which should move beyond its current consultative function towards a binding role in areas with a clear territorial dimension. This will lead to better regulation and greater democratic legitimacy in the EU. It will give the 1.2 million local and regional leaders a reason to bridge the gap between the EU and its citizens.
After a year of debate and good intentions, the Conference on the Future of Europe has shown that citizens are demanding more transparency, more inclusion, more sustainability and more security. The institutional debate has been held in Brussels and Strasbourg, but the process has reinforced the notion that local and regional elected leaders are the link between citizens and national governments and Europe. It is time to speak and act outside the EU and national capitals if European democracy is to survive. To allow sceptics and those who feel left behind to have a voice.
The Conference on the Future of Europe has also proven that many improvements are possible within the existing EU treaty. For instance, the Treaty Article 20 states that “Citizens of the Union have the right to vote and to stand as candidates in elections to the European Parliament and in municipal elections in their Member State of residence, under the same conditions as nationals of that State.” Through the hundreds of local and regional elections we can address the European matters given that 70% of EU legislation is implemented by regional and local authorities. Although this right is foreseen in the treaties for many years, the EU institutions have failed to invest in people’s trust at the grassroots level. The EU citizenship means rights and responsibilities. One of them is to elect and to be elected. Therefore, this treaty provision represents a yet untapped opportunity that citizens could expect the EU to better invest in, especially, in between EU elections. This must also be solved now if we do not want to allow extremists and populists to become even more powerful.
For essential needs like health, defence or making the EU decision-making more effective, Treaty changes should not be taboo. Therefore the proposal for a new Convention on the future of the Europe, proposed by the European Parliament is a welcome chance for this fundamental shift in the role of local and regional government, and the European Committee of the Regions, to become a reality. In contrast, if the Conference brings no change, it will be perceived as more Brussels window-dressing with no added value for citizens. It must act on the many proposals for reform or risk being seen as another meaningless propaganda tool.
Europe needs to change, putting its regions and cities at its centre, or run the risk of change being imposed upon it by citizens at the polls. How the EU responds in protecting refugees, tackling the climate emergency and the economic recovery after the pandemic will shape citizens’ views for 2024. With the European elections approaching, the next 12 months will be crucial in reinforcing the feeling among people that the European Union actually matters to them, their families and their lives. It’s time for the EU be closer to its people.
Renew Europe: This Europe Day is an opportunity to continue working for the future of the EU
MAY 9, 2022
Seventy-two years ago, Robert Schuman’s declaration changed European history forever, introducing the prospect of unity and peace, that had long been inconceivable. Today, more than ever, as war rages on our continent, we must continue to develop and reform the EU and its institutions, in accordance with the will of the EU citizens.
Renew Europe therefore welcomes the final report presented today in Strasbourg by the co-chairs of the Executive Committee of the Conference on the Future of Europe. For one year, many EU citizens have worked with determination to share their ideas and proposals for the future of our Union; an unprecedented exercise in democracy. Our group salutes their commitment and their work and thanks them. We support the proposal of the citizens to establish a Convention, the best way to improve our European democracy.
Renew Europe calls on the European institutions and the Member States to implement the conclusions of the Conference, which was a priority initiative of our political family. In this regard, our group expresses disappointment with the declaration of several member states expressing reservations on the revision of the treaties.
The citizens of the EU have made clear demands that our the treaties should be updated, for example to end unanimity in the Council, enhance defence capacities and deliver greater EU competence in health matters or the European Parliament’s right of initiative. The health crisis and the war in Ukraine show the EU must evolve to be able to tackle the challenges we face.
Stéphane Séjourné, President of Renew Europe, declared:
“The Conference on the Future of Europe is an unprecedented democratic exercise for our continent. We are at a turning point for our Europe. We must live up to our citizens’ expectations and not just listen to them. Let us show ambition and courage, like Robert Schuman 72 years ago, and engage in a reform of the treaties towards more European integration and sovereignty
Renew Europe is fighting for the implementation of the Conference’s proposals, such as transnational lists, the end of the unanimity rule, a true Energy Union ensuring our energy independence and a better protection of our values and the Rule of Law by making Article 7 more effective. We are fighting and we will continue to fight, for our citizens.”
Guy Verhofstadt, co-chair of the Executive Board of the Conference, added:
“A European Union that acts ‘to little, to late’ as we have seen so many times, will not survive. In that sense, European integration is no longer a question of choice, it has become a question of necessity, of survival.”
“The recommendations of the citizens and the conclusions of the Conference, offers us a roadmap to avoid that we become irrelevant or disappear. A new, effective and more democratic Europe is possible. A Europe that is sovereign and is capable to act. A Europe that leads planet earth forward.”
Renew Europe calls for a permanent institutionalisation of direct citizen’s participation in the European project:
“Their is no real opposition or contradiction between representative and participatory democracy; on the contrary; in a modern democracy both are necessary.”
EPC: After the Conference on the Future of Europe – Moving into a new era
By Janis A. Emmanouilidis, Johannes Greubel, Georg Riekeles and Corina Stratulat
Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is a watershed moment for Europe, challenging many of our fundamental assumptions. When the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) comes to an end on 9 May, EU institutions must not only decide on the follow-up to this exercise but, more fundamentally, give direction to the future of the European project.
It will require more than just a few well-intended Sunday speeches. The multiple consequences of the new era we live in have increased the urgency of policy reforms as well as institutional innovations in different areas. But the exact direction of travel is clearer in some areas (e.g. energy independence from Russia) than in others (e.g. future of EU defence or democratic reform).
While the European Parliament has already signalled its intention to push for a Convention to bring about the necessary treaty changes that “the conclusions of the Conference require”, other EU institutions are still cautious about committing to a concrete reform track. This suggests a need to apply additional filters to help the EU identify and push for reforms reflecting both the final proposals of the Conference and the new reality.
This potential draft blueprint and timeline outline a proposal for a detailed post-Conference process into a new era. It aims to reflect and contribute to the debate on what should come after the Conference, touching on a spectrum of options that involve the need to speed up policy reforms and innovations and the proposal to initiate a Convention to amend the EU’s primary law.
Following the CoFoE, this blueprint suggests EU institutions put together a Wise Wo!men’s Group tasked with assessing the CoFoE outcome in terms of priority, scope, clarity of action and required treaty amendments. The Group will have to prepare the next steps in the process by filtering the necessary key policy reforms in light of the new era and drafting a preliminary list of treaty amendments, reflecting already existing adaptation needs as well as the proposals coming out of the Conference. The final report of the Wise Wo!men’s Group could be presented and discussed at the CoFoE’s feedback event for citizens in Strasbourg in October 2022. Crucially, the report should then form the basis for the launch of the ordinary treaty revision procedure (Article 48 TEU) in December 2022, including the setting up of a Convention.
This blueprint conveys three key messages:
First, enacting indispensable policy reforms and treaty change is not an ‘either-or ’ question. On the contrary, they should be pursued in parallel, and they might even influence each other. A comprehensive Conference follow-up should therefore include both tracks.
Second, EU institutions need to follow up on key policy reforms and potential treaty amendments in a coordinated effort to make sure that the necessary reform momentum will be strong enough and not fade away over time. Discussing and then agreeing on a concrete blueprint and timeline is essential to ensure that the EU27 will have the political stamina and commitment to prepare the Union for the realities of the new era we live in.
Third, if EU institutions decide to amend the existing Treaties via the ordinary revision procedure through a Convention, this process must be properly prepared. There is a need to define a clear mandate and agree on a predefined timetable laying out what the process should look like.
This draft blueprint and timeline aim to foster the discussions on the post-CoFoE period, and we will potentially update the document in line with the upcoming developments and the evolution of the debate.