The Time is Now - 7/2021

"We will make sure that young people can help lead the debate in the Conference on the Future Of Europe. This is their future and this must be their Conference too."

Ursula Von Der Leyen, SOTEU 2021

The Conference on the Future of Europe is now officially underway, the first European citizen’s panel sessions are due to start this weekend.


By the end of the year, the panels will formulate recommendations, which will be discussed at a plenary that brings together citizens, representatives of EU institutions and national parliaments as well as other stakeholders. The recommendations will feed into a final report, which will be prepared in spring 2022 by the executive board of the Conference, comprised of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. The European Citizens’ Panels are a central feature of the Conference organised by the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission based on their Joint Declaration. The first sessions of all four Panels will take place on Parliament’s premises in Strasbourg and begin working on draft recommendations within each Panel’s remit. This first European Citizens’ Panel will focus on a stronger economy, social justice, jobs/education, youth, culture, and sport/digital transformation, based on citizens’ contributions collected from across Europe on the Multilingual Digital Platform, as well as support and presentations from prominent academics.

Watch the plenary meetings of the European Citizens’ Panels live!


In her State of the Union Speech, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, takes stock of the European policies of the past year and sets out the priorities for work in 2022.

After one of the toughest years in its history, Europe needs to look towards the future with renewed hope. In the coming months, the European Commission will therefore focus on the following priorities:

  • Continuing the vaccination efforts in Europe and speeding up vaccination globally, as well as strengthening the pandemic preparedness.
  • Working on closing the climate finance gap, together with our global partners.
  • Leading the digital transformation that will create jobs and drive competitiveness, while ensuring technical excellence and security of supply.
  • Ensuring fairer working conditions and better healthcare, and creating more opportunities for Europe’s youth to benefit from the European social market economy.
  • Stepping up our cooperation on security and defence, and deepening EU’s partnership with closest allies.
  • Defending European values and freedoms, and protecting the rule of law.

Von der Leyen proclaimed she would make 2022 the ’Year of European Youth‘, with young people being encouraged to contribute to the debate in the consultations of the Conference on the Future of Europe as this is “their future and this must be their Conference too“.

“Our Union needs a soul and a vision they can connect to. Or as Jacques Delors asked: How can we ever build Europe if young people do not see it as a collective project and a vision of their own future?,“ Von der Leyen asked.

Responding to EU lawmakers in Strasbourg, Von der Leyen promised to “give a follow up” on the conference’s conclusions. 

In our SOTEU Livestream with views and visions of the European Federalists, UEF President and MEP Sandro GOZI and UEF Austria President and MEP Lukas MANDL welcomed the assessment made by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen: the attention to young people, first of all, because the European project is primarily about securing their future; the attention to security, in all its aspects, social, health, geopolitical. Then, the reference to the greatest merit in the past year, which is undoubtedly in the area of combating the economic consequences of the pandemic with the multi-billion financial package, the recovery fund. And, as the tragedy unfolding in Afghanistan shows, the proposal for the European Union to initiate the development of a true European Defence Union and to set up quickly an autonomous rapid reaction force. However, as European Federalists, we need also to stress the need of deepening European integration. The past year’s crisis made very visible the need for a more united Europe. Hence, we can’t miss the opportunity to make the Conference on the Future of Europe a true forum with citizens to work together to achieve a more sovereign and democratic Europe. 

Rewatch  our Livestream and read  UEF's Press Release on the SOTEU.

Find  here  the State of the Union 2021 - President von der Leyen's speech. 


Attitudes towards the EU remain positive and broadly stable, according to the latest Standard Eurobarometer conducted in June-July 2021.

Optimism about the future of the EU has increased sharply since summer 2020, with two-thirds of respondents now holding a positive view (66%, +6 percentage points). This is the highest level since autumn 2009. Just over three in ten respondents are pessimistic about the EU's future (31%, -7) - the lowest level since 2009.

A clear majority is optimistic about the future of the EU in 26 Member States, while public opinion remains split in Greece. Optimism has increased in 22 countries since summer 2020, with very large increases in Malta (75%, +25), Italy (67%, +18) and Portugal (76%, +15). As a result of these changes, optimism is now the majority opinion in Italy (67%) and France (53%).


According Slovenia’s State Secretary Gašper Dovžan,  after the successive crises over two decades, a core issue for the Conference on the Future of Europe should be how to ensure the resilience of the EU and put policies in favour of European citizens first. This would include exploring how current shortcomings could be improved by establishing cooperation mechanisms or discussing what passerelles could be used, like abandoning qualified majority voting for quicker and faster decisions.

However, according to him, it would not be necessary to primarily talk about treaty change as there is more or less unanimity among member states to ensure that we debate policies and that we see how we could improve the functioning of the EU.

The Presidency main goal is to be inclusive and to have full transparency when it comes to member states wishes and that we are adequately representing the aggregate of views present in the Council and there is the need to put policies in favour of citizens first.


The European Youth Event (YE2021)  offers a new experience for young people from all over Europe and beyond. Alongside in-person activities, this edition will feature exciting online activities on the dedicated EYE2021 platform under the tagline “The future is ours”.

Starting on October 4, EYE2021 will run online activities, leading up to the main event on 8-9 October in Strasbourg, which will feature online and in-person activities as well as new hybrid formats.

From the comfort of their home and from all over Europe, young people will be able to access the EYE2021 platform to watch and interact with online activities using any device available, be it desktop, tablet, or mobile.