Conference on the Future of Europe: citizens’ recommendations debated in Plenary

(Credit: Unsplash)

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


On Friday 21 and Saturday 22 January, the Conference Plenary took stock of recommendations made by two European Citizens’ Panels and national Citizens’ Panels.

The third session of the Conference Plenary took stock of the 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 debates revolved around the recommendations from the two European Citizens’ Panels that have finalised their work so far, in which some 200 Europeans of different ages and backgrounds, from all Member States, met (in person and remotely) to discuss and adopt recommendations on the challenges facing Europe now and in the future.


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


Guy Verhofstadt (European Parliament), said: “I 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.”


Clément Beaune (Presidency of the Council) commented: “The Plenary must take up citizens’ recommendations. This is the challenge we have to face together in the Conference on the Future of Europe. We are delighted that citizens’ debates and contributions enrich the European Union’s priorities for future generations.”


Dubravka Šuica (European Commission) stated: “From the beginning, I have had full trust in this deliberative process. But, it has exceeded even those expectations: I am impressed by the high quality of the recommendations adopted by the European and National Citizens panels that have completed their work so far. It is therefore all the more important that the 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.”


Next steps


The two European Citizens’ Panels that have not yet delivered their recommendations are due to 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.


Background


The Conference Plenary comprises 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. In addition, 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 invited to participate in the debate from time to time, when topics within their respective portfolios are discussed. Representatives of key stakeholders may also be invited – as was the case on 21-22 January for representatives of Western Balkan countries, of EU agencies and bodies like the EU Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly, and of the dialogue between European institutions and churches, religious associations or communities, as well as philosophical and non-confessional organisations.


The Plenary debates the recommendations from both national and European Citizens’ Panels, and the input gathered from the Multilingual Digital Platform, grouped by themes, without a pre-determined outcome. The Plenary will, based on consensus, put forward its proposals to the Executive Board. The latter 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. These representatives have been members of the Plenary since its second session that took place in October in Strasbourg. Find out more information on the Plenary’s composition, purpose and work, and download all relevant documents for the coming weekend, on the Conference Plenary webpage.


All Europeans can continue to contribute to the debate via the multilingual digital platform.


For more information


Extracts are available on EbS. All video, audio and photo coverage from the Working Groups and the Plenary debates is available on Parliament’s Multimedia Centre.

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