The Time is Now - 9/2021

“Young people must be able to shape Europe’s future.”

President von der Leyen 


The third panel on the Conference on the Future of Europe at the European Parliament in Strasbourg has just ended, where citizens from all over Europe have brought forward the ideas that animate the EU democratic experiment that began last spring.

Environment, climate and health are among the key topics in the debate between citizens and experts in the plenary. It is clear from the first debate on Saturday that the way we live and consume is no longer sustainable for the planet and that we need to change our habits and find solutions to lower CO2 emissions. On health, we talk about interoperability (that is, the exchange of health information between member states), artificial intelligence, technological development to implement disease treatment, and the need to protect European health data even better. 

Citizens are more ambitious than EU leaders regarding the process of European integration: they are discussing the abolition of unanimity in the Council and the shifting of some competences, transferring more competences at the European level. It should be remembered that President Ursula Von der Leyen, during her State of the Union address, said that there will be action on existing treaties. Many of the topics under discussion at the Conference, aim to overcome them.

In their next meetings, panellists will come up with ideas on how to achieve healthy lifestyles, protect biodiversity, produce safe and healthy food, reduce waste, regulate consumption, and reinforce European health systems, etc.

These topics were divided into five subgroups to be addressed in depth:

  • Better ways of living
  • Protecting our environment and our health
  • Redirecting our economy and consumption
  • Towards a sustainable society
  • Health

The panel on climate change, environment and health will meet online on 19-21 November. The third session will take place on 7-9 January in Warsaw.

Before that the citizens’ panel discussing migration and the EU's role in the world will meet for the first time in Strasbourg on 15-17 October.

Did you miss last weekend's CoFoE Citizens' Panel on climate change, environment & health? Watch the plenaries back:


Recycling, multilingualism, the rule of law and a push for a federal Europe were among the main ideas by the 10,000 young participants.

The European Youth Event (EYE2021) took place on 8-9 October, with 5,000 young people at the European Parliament in Strasbourg and another 5,000 online, to discuss more than 2,000 ideas for shaping the future of Europe.

The youth consultation process for the Conference on the Future of Europe started in May 2021, in collaboration with pan-European youth organisations, and collected more than 2,000 ideas on the future of Europe through the online platform.

Among the proposals brought up at EYE2021, participants put forward concrete ideas to make recycling easier across the EU, to make the so-called ‘Article 7’ procedure, protecting EU values, more effective, and the reforming of language learning in schools to promote multilingualism. With climate change, COVID-19 and international security concerns identified by the youth representatives as significant challenges to the EU, they came forward with proposals for a more federal Europe, together with ideas to keep companies more accountable for their contributions to climate change .

“We want this conference to open up a new phase, a phase of participation, but also of change. To change the rules, because we have seen in this year and a half that there cannot be taboos. European democracy must be more efficient and effective. The European Parliament is very ambitious on this. We believe that today it is urgent to look at where we are, and where we want to go. This is an unprecedented exercise, because you, young people, the citizens of the Union, and all of us are called upon to contribute to this debate and to find ways forward together.”, said the European Parliament President Sassoli at the EYE. 

The most popular 20 ideas from EYE2021 will be presented by two young participants at the next plenary of the Conference on the Future of Europe, taking place in Strasbourg on 22-23 October 2021.

Find more facts and figures on the EYE2021, here.


The Conference Observatory runs parallel to the Conference, monitoring, analysing and contributing to the debates. In addition to providing input, organising events and communicating around the issues, the Observatory runs an independent High-Level Advisory Group.

The independent High-Level Advisory Group accompanies and seeks to shape the Conference process and outcomes, at different levels and phases. Throughout the Conference and especially in its final phase, the Group will make recommendations on the possible results and outcome of the Conference.

The High-Level Advisory Group brings together a small but diversified group of experts, policymakers and civil society actors, capable of generating new ideas with regard to the future of Europe, and communicating them effectively in the public debate. The group is jointly chaired by Herman Van Rompuy, President Emeritus of the European Council, and Brigid Laffan, Emeritus Professor at the European University Institute.


Local and regional leaders held a debate with Dubravka Šuica, European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography. The members of the European Committee of the Regions' (CoR) underlined the role the Commission is playing in making sure that the voice of regions, cities and villages are represented in an adequate manner within the Conference. They reiterated their call to ensure that the debate on Europe's future reaches citizens through local and regional authorities, responding to their demands.

During his opening speech Apostolos Tzitsikostas , President of the European Committee of the Regions and Governor of the Greek Region of Central Macedonia, said: “I thank Vice-President Šuica for her hard work as Co-Chair of the Conference on the Future of Europe and for her support to all EU regional and local leaders. With each and every action that she undertakes, she is clearly proving that she is one of our best friend in Brussels. All regional and local delegates will work hard for the success of the Conference to bring Europe closer to its people.”

Dubravka Šuica, the European Commission's Vice-President for Democracy and Demography stated:  "Without the involvement and dedication of the Committee of the Regions, the Conference could not fulfil its potential in reaching out to every citizen, from the mountains to the islands. The CoR’s commitment to “Bringing Europe closer to its people” and to reinforcing European democracy at all levels of government, and most importantly from the very roots, is instrumental to making democracy fit for the future.”

​​Register now for the latest edition of Conference Conversations, where speakers will focus on the CoFoE's European Citizens' Panels.


MEPs took stock of ideas flowing fromthe European Youth Event and ongoing Citizens' Panels. Members are looking forward to discussing them with citizens' representatives at the Conference plenary on 23/10.