Future of EU: Beaune praises high quality of citizens’ contributions

“The plenary must take up citizens’ recommendations... this is the challenge we have to face together in the Conference on the Future of Europe.”

French secretary of state Clement Beaune
French secretary of state Clement Beaune

The Conference on the Future of Europe (CFOE) continued throughout the weekend of 21-22 January, with a conference plenary examining the recommendations from two European Citizens’ Panels and national Citizens’ Panels.

The third session of the Conference Plenary dealt with 90 recommendations made by the Panels on ‘European democracy/Values and rights, rule of law, security' and ‘Climate change, environment/Health', and of related recommendations from national Citizens’ Panels.

“The plenary must take up citizens’ recommendations,” said French secretary of state Clement Beaune. “This is the challenge we have to face together in the Conference on the Future of Europe.”

Beaune was delighted with the citizens’ debates and contributions to the CFOE, saying the process “enriched the European Union’s priorities for future generations.”

The plenary members debated the recommendations which some 200 Europeans.

The panel on ‘European democracy and Values and rights, rule of law, security’ adopted 39 recommendations at its final session hosted by the European University Institute in Florence in December. The panel on ‘Climate change, environment and Health’ was hosted by the College of Europe in Natolin and the City of Warsaw in January, where it finalised 51 recommendations.

MEP and former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt said he was “especially struck by how confidently citizen representatives defended their recommendations in their debates with experienced politicians. It’s clear that they count on concrete follow-up, respectful of their broad vision, and not just cherry-picking. All recommendations will need to be addressed in the end.”

Dubravka Šuica, vice president of the European Commission and commissioner for democracy and demography, said she had full trust in this deliberative process from day one.

Šuica said the CFOE had “exceeded even those expectations”, having been impressed by the high quality of the recommendations adopted by the European and National Citizens panels.

She said it was important that “citizens recognise themselves in the outcome of these deliberations and later see the impact of the concrete outcome of this Conference…Our democracy deserves this lively and constructive debate.”

The Conference Plenary is made up of representatives from the European Parliament (108), the Council (54, or two per member state) and the European Commission (3), as well as from all national Parliaments (108) on an equal footing, and citizens (108). As part of the citizens’ component, representatives from the European Citizens’ Panels (80), representatives of national events or national Citizens’ Panels (27, or one per member state) and the President of the European Youth Forum take part in the deliberations.

On top of all that, representatives from the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee (18 from each), elected representatives from regional and local authorities (6 from each), and representatives of the social partners (12) and civil society (8) participate as members.

Other members of the College of Commissioners, including the High Representative of the Union, are also invited to participate in the debate from time to time, when topics within their respective portfolios are discussed.

After the Plenary debates the recommendations from all European Citizens’ Panels and the input gathered from the Multilingual Digital Platform, grouped by themes. The Plenary will then on a consensus basis submit its proposals to the Executive Board.

The executive board will draw up a report in full collaboration and full transparency with the Plenary. The Panels have selected 80 citizens (20 for each Panel) to represent them in the Conference Plenary as it unfolds, all of whom have been part of the panels since at least the second session. More information on all of this can be found on the conference website

What happens now is the two European Citizens’ Panels that have not delivered their recommendations will finalise their work in February.

The meeting of the Panel on ‘EU in the world / migration’ (expected to take place on 11-13 February) will be hosted by the European Institute for Public Administration in Maastricht, Netherlands. The one on ‘A stronger economy, social justice and jobs / Education, culture, youth and sport / Digital transformation’ (expected to take place on 25-27 February) will be hosted by the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin, Ireland. Their recommendations will be debated at a subsequent session of the Conference Plenary and then also forwarded onto the executive board.

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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