Conference on the Future of Europe: citizens in the spotlight

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


The first of four European Citizens’ Panels starts its work with a session in Strasbourg from Friday, 17 September to Sunday, 19 September 2021.

The Panels lie at the heart of the Conference on the Future of Europe and will bring together 800 citizens from all backgrounds and corners of the EU. From September 2021 to January 2022, four panels, each comprising 200 citizens, reflecting the EU’s demographic and social diversity will deliberate and make concrete recommendations on the future direction they want for Europe. At least one third of the participants in each panel will be younger than 25.


In a multilingual environment, the participants of each panel will meet three times to debate, respectively, the following topics.

  1. A stronger economy, social justice, jobs / education, youth, culture, sport / digital transformation;
  2. European democracy/values, rights, rule of law, security;
  3. Climate change, environment/health; and,
  4. EU in the world/migration.


Each panel will have met once to kick off their work before the next Conference Plenary meeting on 22-23 October.


The Conference and the European Citizens’ Panels, in particular, are an unprecedented transnational and multilingual exercise in deliberative democracy, an exercise that offers European citizens a central role in shaping the future of the EU. As part of the Conference, citizens can also put forward their ideas on a multilingual digital platform and in numerous events organised at national and European levels.


The European Citizens’ Panels will take on board the contributions from the Conference’s Multilingual Digital Platform, starting from the first Interim report, published on 15 September. Their deliberations will also be informed by the recommendations stemming from national Citizens’ Panels organised in the context of the Conference across Member States.


By the final session of the Panels, these 800 citizens will formulate recommendations, which will be presented and discussed within the Conference Plenary. 20 citizens selected from each panel will deliberate jointly with the representatives of the EU institutions and advisory bodies, national Parliaments, social partners, civil society and other stakeholders – all as full members of the Conference Plenary. After these recommendations have been presented by and discussed with citizens, the Plenary will on a consensual basis put forward proposals to the Executive Board, who will draw up a report in full collaboration and full transparency with the Plenary. The three institutions – the European Parliament, the Council of the EU, and the European Commission – have undertaken to examine swiftly how to follow up effectively on this report, each within their own sphere of competences and in accordance with the EU Treaties.


Next steps


During their first sessions, the Panels will discuss the citizens’ various visions for the future and choose on which subtopics they wish to focus their deliberations. They will also select their representatives to the Conference Plenary.


The first session of each panel will be held in Strasbourg (i.e. Panel 1 on 17-19 September, Panel 2 on 24-26 September, Panel 3 on 1-3 October, and Panel 4 on 15-17 October), the second online, and the third one in European institutes in other European cities (Dublin, Florence, Warsaw and Maastricht), in full respect of the applicable health and safety measures. The first two panels will present and debate their recommendations at the Conference Plenary in December 2021, while the third and the fourth will do so in January 2022.


Background


The four European Citizens’ Panels are one of the pillars of the Conference on the Future of Europe and are jointly organised by the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission.


The participating citizens were randomly selected by an independent polling company, according to five criteria to reflect EU’s diversity: geographic origin (nationality and urban/rural), gender, age, socioeconomic background and level of education. Young people between 16 and 25 will make up one-third of each panel and gender balance will be respected. To strengthen transparency, the Panels’ plenary deliberations (i.e. the discussions among all 200 citizens) will be web streamed live on the Multilingual Digital Platform of the Conference in 24 languages.

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