(Source: European Commission)
What are the results of the Conference on the Future of Europe?
The results of the Conference are presented in the report on the outcome of the Conference, handed over to the Presidents of the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission on 9 May 2022. The centrepiece is the 49 proposals for the future of Europe set out in that report, covering nine topics: climate change and the environment; health; 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. These proposals include general objectives and more than 300 concrete measures for the institutions to follow up on. Besides these proposals, the report includes a factual overview of the architecture of the Conference, focusing on its citizen-driven and innovative dimension, an overview of the Conference Plenary, as well as the recommendations of citizens’ panels and references to national events and the report on the Multilingual Digital Platform.
How was the consensus reached on the results of the Conference?
The 49 proposals were formulated by the Conference Plenary on a consensual basis and then put forward to the Executive Board. At the Plenary meeting on 29 and 30 April 2022, representatives of the European Parliament, the Council, the Commission, representatives from national parliaments reached a consensus on the final proposals of the Conference plenary and approved and the process that led to them. The 108 members of the citizens’ component expressed their final say on the basis of this consensus. At its meeting on 6 May 2022, the Executive Board drew up the Conclusions of the Plenary and endorsed by consensus the report on the outcome of the Conference.
Why and when was the Conference launched?
The Conference was launched to allow, by way of a citizens-focused, bottom-up, grass roots exercise, all Europeans to have a say on what they expect from the European Union and have a greater role in shaping the future of the Union.
The signing of the Joint Declaration on the Conference on the Future of Europe on 10 March 2021 by the Presidents of the three EU institutions paved the way for this unprecedented, open and inclusive European democratic exercise, which places citizens at its very heart. On 19 April 2021, the Multilingual Digital Platform of the Conference was launched, and on 9 May 2021, an inaugural event of the Conference took place in the European Parliament’s premises in Strasbourg.
Who participated in the Conference and what were its main elements?
- The Multilingual Digital Platform was set up as the main hub of the Conference. It gave everyone the chance to participate, by putting forward and debating ideas, as well as participating in events across Europe and reporting on their outcomes.
- A central and particularly innovative feature of the Conference was the European Citizens’ Panels. A total of some 800 randomly selected citizens, representative of the EU’s sociological and geographical diversity, organised into four Panels of 200 citizens, met for three deliberative sessions each and made recommendations. A third of each Panel is composed of young people (age 16 – 25).
- Member States organised National Citizens’ Panels based on the same principles. In addition, they contributed to the Conference through a wide range of events and initiatives.
- A Conference Plenary was set up to debate the recommendations from the National and European Citizens’ Panels, and the input gathered from the Multilingual Digital Platform, grouped by themes. Together with citizens representing European Citizens’ Panels and national panels/events, it gathered representatives of EU institutions and advisory bodies, elected representatives at national, regional and local level, and representatives of social partners and civil society.
- An Executive Board oversaw the organisation of the Conference.
What was the input of the Multilingual Digital Platform to the results of the Conference?
The Multilingual Digital Platform allowed to gather ideas from participants on the platform, as well as input from the multitude of original and innovative events taking place under the umbrella of the Conference in the Member States. By May 2022, close to 5 million individual visitors had visited the Multilingual Digital Platform and there were over 50,000 active participants, 18,000 ideas debated, and over 6,500 events registered on the Platform.
Throughout the Conference, reports were drawn up on the contributions submitted on the Platform. The reports, including the thematic mind maps, provided valuable input to the work of the European Citizens’ Panels. Many ideas on the Platform are therefore reflected in the recommendations of the European Citizens’ Panels. Contributions gathered through the Platform were also debated and discussed in the Conference Plenary and its Working Groups.
What was the input of the European Citizens Panels and national panels to the final results of the Conference?
Each of the four European Citizens’ Panels covered different topics in their work, focusing on (1) Stronger economy, social justice, jobs/education, youth, culture, sport/digital transformation; (2) European democracy/values and rights, rule of law, security; (3) Climate change, environment/health; and (4) EU in the world/migration. Each panel came up with a set of recommendations, and selected 20 ambassadors to the Conference Plenary to present and debate these recommendations.
In addition, six Member States – Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania and the Netherlands – organised National Citizens’ Panels under the same principles as European Citizens’ Panels.
Altogether, the four European Citizens’ Panels and six National Panels adopted 178 recommendations, which were the main basis for the proposals prepared in the Conference Plenary and Working Groups.
What was the role of the Conference Plenary?
The Conference Plenary met seven times from June 2021 to April 2022. It ensured that the recommendations from the National and European Citizens’ Panels, and input gathered from the Multilingual Digital Platform, were debated and turned into proposals. After the recommendations were presented by and discussed with citizens, the Plenary put forward its proposals on a consensual basis to the Executive Board. Nine Plenary Working Groups were also established, to prepare the debates and the proposals of the Conference Plenary. The Working Groups held lively and constructive debates in their meetings ahead of the Conference Plenaries, as well as online.
At the 7th Conference Plenary, 49 proposals of the Plenary, covering nine topics, were on a consensual basis put forward to the Executive Board.
What was the impact of the Russian aggression against Ukraine on the Conference?
The geopolitical developments during the Conference, and especially the Russian invasion of Ukraine, gave a new perspective to the Conference process. They underlined the importance of upholding democratic values in EU Member States and in the world, while continuing to engage with citizens and nurturing the democratic legitimacy of the EU, which is a peace project in its origin. Ukrainian citizens and Members of the Parliament were heard during the Plenary and invited to the closing event of the Conference. Several citizens’ recommendations became more prominent in the light of these developments and Plenary discussions frequently considered the proposals in the new geopolitical context.
How will the results of the Conference be followed up and how will the participants be informed about it?
The Conference allowed the EU institutions to listen carefully to the concerns, ambitions, and ideas expressed by citizens across Europe. The next step in this process is to come up with concrete EU action building on the outcome of the Conference, contained in the final report. The EU institutions will now examine swiftly how to follow up effectively on this report, each within their own sphere of competences and in accordance with the Treaties. A feedback event will take place to update citizens in autumn 2022.