Announced in 2019, the Conference on the Future of Europe is a political process and forum, with the aim of igniting a pan-European, citizen-led debate on the direction of EU policies. The Conference is the first of its kind: the intention being to bring citizens, civil society, and a variety of other holders into the heart of EU decision making. The digital and green transitions provide the backdrop to the initiative’s development. The EU is hoping to give a direct voice to citizens, who will be able to suggest areas of concern and development within and beyond EU competences.
The Conference will be placed under the authority of the three institutions, represented by the President of the European Parliament, the President of the Council and the President of the European Commission, acting as its Joint Presidency.
Unfortunately, despite the proclaims of the Conference being informed with a bottom-up approach, the Executive Board of the Conference on the Future of Europe rejected a proposal from the European Parliament to include a representative of the Civil Society Convention on the Future of Europe as an observer. As LLLP, and as part of the Convention, we pledge to participate and monitor nonetheless the outcomes and the process of the Conference.
Launch of a multilingual digital platform
The 19th of April saw the Conference launching a multilingual digital platform created to enable citizens from across the EU participate directly in the Conference’s direction. National parliaments, regional authorities, civil society, social organisations and academia are also encouraged to participate.
The platform will act as the Conference’s central hub, an arena where all contributions to the Conference will be collected and shared, including decentralised events, the European Citizens’ Panels and Conference Plenaries. The key ideas and recommendations drawn from the platform are set to be used as input for the European citizens’ panels and the Plenaries, where they will be discussed to form the Conference’s conclusions. The platform will also provide information on the Conference’s structure and work.
President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, states: “The platform represents a key tool to allow citizens to participate and have a say on the Future of Europe. We must be certain that their voices will be heard and that they have a role in the decision-making, regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Above all else, the platform is intended to set the scene for a greater degree of interaction, dialogue and exchange in relation to the future of the EU, essentially opening the floor to a broader set of voices than are usually heard. The conversations will be framed by a number of key topics including: climate change and the environment; health; a stronger and fairer economy; social justice and jobs; EU in the world; values and rights, rule of law, security; digital transformation; European democracy; migration; and education, culture, youth and sport.
The Lifelong Learning Platform believes in open, collaborative forms of decision-making, in line with the principles of European democracy. On our own, through the many networks in which we hold membership (Civil Society Europe, EESC Liaison Group, etc), and through the events and gatherings we organise with our membership, we intend to extensively contribute to the Conference. Because we believe in the essential role of organised civil society for the outlook of Europe on its future, and because the future of Europe is a Learning Europe.