"We must show the same courage and the same determination of our founders and push for a new European democratic transformation: we will never give up on this. For 75 years, UEF has put itself to the service of the European unification and it will continue to do so.”
UEF President and MEP Sandro GOZI
1. THIRD INTERIM REPORT
Two interim reports have been published to date, covering contributions on the platform until 7 September 2021.
The aim of this third interim report is to cover in addition contributions up to 3 November 2021. It also provides more insights on events. More detailed information on contributions per Member State on the platform is provided in a supplementary report made available simultaneously on the platform. A further report and overview of contributions, including per Member State, will be made available early next year to cover new contributions added to the platform.
This report summarises the activity on the Multilingual Digital Platform for the Conference on the Future of Europe from its launch up to 3 November 2021.
In this period 29,012 contributions were recorded on the platform, with 9,337 ideas, 16,017 comments and 3,658 events covering all 10 topics.
The topics of European Democracy and Climate change and the environment have attracted by far the highest volume of contributions so far, followed by the open topic of Other ideas.
All EU countries have generated activity. Germany has the largest number of contributions in total numbers since the launch of the platform, but in proportion to their population smaller countries register more contributions, with Malta being the most active. In the recent period since 8 September, Hungary has generated the most contributions in proportion to its population. There are also some contributions from third countries.
Approximately 57% of contributors have identified themselves as men and 15% as women. However, more than a quarter of contributors have not provided information on their gender. In this regard, it should be highlighted that organisations can also contribute to the platform.
As regards the profile of participants, the representation of age groups is quite diversified, with 55-69 year-olds being the most active age group, closely followed by 25-39 year- olds.
A report on contributions per Member State has also been published and can be found here.
2. CoFoE PANEL ON EUROPEAN DEMOCRACY
Citizens’ Panel in Florence - Source: European Parliament multimedia center
Florence’s panel was the first to finalise its recommendations that concern a wide range of topics, including anti-discrimination, democracy and the rule of law, EU institutional reforms, the building of a European identity, and the strengthening of citizen participation.
Several recommendations would require changes to treaties, leading to clashes with the Commission, who have said they are unwilling to take such actions.
Guy Verhofstadt, CoFoE’s chair, told journalists that “it will be very difficult for European institutions to neglect the recommendations of the citizens. This exercise is organised by the EU, together with national parliaments, to actively involve citizens in the policymaking.”
There are nine recommendations dedicated to the reform of the EU. Most of them potentially go beyond the current treaties, as they aim to implement transnational democracy and involve citizens in policymaking regularly. More information on the European Union in the media and a daily news block such as the one dedicated to sports is one of the proposals that has met with the greatest response.
These recommendations will be discussed and voted on in January 2022 with the plenary in Strasbourg, where 20 ambassadors from each panel will present recommendations.
Check on the other citizens’ panels reports:
- EU in the world / migration
- Climate change, environment / health
- Stronger economy, social justice and jobs / youth, sport, culture and education / digital transformation
The next step, once the four panels complete the process and finalise their list of recommendations, is to bring the proposals to the different plenary sessions of the Conference on the Future of Europe, scheduled for 2022. The "ambassadors" of the panels will go there to defend their proposals and then an accountability process will begin in which the EU will have to explain how its agreements are being included in the regulatory corpus of the 27.
3. EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRIORITIES 2022
The European Commission has published its list on the priorities for the upcoming year and among them they highlight the need to keep on listening to the citizens and take part in European politics!
They encourage everyone to contribute to building a better Europe by taking part in the Conference on the Future of Europe. However, the Conference is not the only tool for citizen participation. There are also instruments such as the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) - through which EU citizens can directly petition the Commission for a new law - or citizens' consultations - where people can have their say on the priorities and scope of new initiatives, as well as on ongoing ones.
4. EU COUNCIL PRESIDENCY
French President Emmanuel Macron gave an overview on Thursday 9 December of the priorities France wants to pursue when it takes over the EU Council Presidency in the first half of 2022. Among the French Presidency priorities, UEF welcomes:
- EU sovereignty: The first objective of the French presidency will be to “move from a Europe of cooperation within our borders to a powerful Europe in the world, fully sovereign, free to make its own choices and master of its own destiny.
- A more humane Europe: Macron said he wanted to take advantage of the presidency to renew the EU’s “humanist vocation” by making it “more effective” and “closer to our citizens”. The Conference on the Future of Europe coming to a close in May should, according to him, mark the “start of this refounding momentum”.
5. CoR RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE CoFoE
The Committee of European Regions published its own recommendations to the Conference on the Future of Europe. The CoR called for the establishment of a permanent EU citizens' assembly in interim report.
6. ARTICLES & OPINION PIECES
- EURACTIV: Take back parliamentary control The accountability of the European Commission to the directly elected Parliament is at a low point in history, and Parliament’s current leadership is completely neglecting its scrutiny role. It is time for a change, writes Renew Europe Group MEP Sophie In’t Veld.
- EURACTIV: An ever closer union can be a multi-speed one The proposals made at the CoFoE for a fiscal union, veto-free EU decision making in foreign affairs, and transnational lists will need backing by civil society if they are to succeed, according to the newly elected president of JEF Europe Antonio Argenziano.
- EURACTIV: Future of Europe conference ‘not a listening exercise without consequences’, says leading MEP “Governments are obliged to react, they cannot bypass citizens’ proposals”, Italian socialist MEP Brando Benifei told EURACTIV in an interview on the CoFoE.
- EURACTIV: Let’s imagine the Europe of tomorrow! The Conference on the Future of Europe, launched in March seeks to give EU citizens a voice in determining the bloc’s priorities. Nathalie Colin-Oesterlé (EPP MEP and a member of the CoFoE) takes stock of what has been achieved so far.
- EURACTIV: History at heart – Teaching Europe’s past can protect its future How to teach history across Europe, and how it can contribute to a vibrant democratic culture was the question at the heart of a two day annual conference ‘History Education for a Democratic Europe’ last week, organised by the Observatory on History Teaching in Europe.
- EURACTIV: “The Future is in our hands: Our chance to shape the Conference on the Future of Europe” Opinion by Xabier Macias, President of Coppieters Foundation While big corporations and lobby groups enjoy access and influence upon global institutions and international decision makers, it is rare that citizens and NGOs are given the opportunity to speak up – and more importantly to be heard – in Europe.
- EURACTIV: Poland’s Vision of EU Future: a Non-Federalist Consensus? The subject of the ongoing conference on the future of Europe is the reform of the EU. The debate is covering both institutional changes and modifications to individual policies. The course of the conference to date, however, is not of interest on the continent, being also unnoticed by the public in Poland. - Piotr Tosiek, Head of Department of Law and Institutions of the EU at the University of Warsaw.
- POLITICO: Democrats for Europe: a new momentum The European Democratic Party says it has a clear political platform, renewed ambition and a busy year ahead. MEP and EDP Secretary General Sandro Gozi details the party’s plan for 2022 and beyond.
- MARTENS CENTRE: Prospects for the Conference on the Future of Europe As the Conference begins to draw its conclusions, all eyes will be on how the institutions react and what their next steps will be.
- EURACTIV: CoFoE: Lack of inclusion of people with disabilities is worrying Persons with disabilities do not have an equal access to the CoFoE, writes Yannis Vardakastanis (president of the European Disability Forum and a member of the CoFoE Plenary).
- EURACTIV: It is time to speak up on the CoFoE! The CoFoE aims to be an inclusive and participative process where all Europeans have a say on how our future European Union should look like. - Jesus Cordero is President of JEF Madrid and Joaquim Candel is International Officer at JEF Spain.
- EURACTIV: Why the French Presidency’s insistence on European ‘Belonging’ matters ‘Belonging’ is the last of the three keywords announced as the motto of the upcoming French EU Council Presidency, along with recovery and strength. Why such an emphasis on a notion no government can buy and no parliament can pass legislation on? - Sébastien Maillard, Director of the Institut Jacques Delors.
- FINANCIAL TIMES: Dutch vow to be EU’s locomotive rather than brake Pro-European turn by new coalition government reflects shifting consensus about EU’s role.
- JACQUES DELORS CENTER: A political enigma: Four open questions about the Conference on the Future of Europe The CoFoE remains an enigma just five months before its projected end. In this policy brief, Lucas Guttenberg outlines the four main open questions that will determine the outcome of the conference and whether it will be judged a success.
7. HOLIDAYS BREAK
UEF Secretariat in Brussels will be closed from 24th December to 3rd January 2022. UEF takes this opportunity to wish you all a safe and happy holiday season and a federalist new year!