Conference on the Future of Europe
A long-awaited chance to fix the EU?

Updated: 9/06/2022

About the Conference

The Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) was a series of consultations across the continent between April 2021 and May 2022 aiming to collect ideas for EU reform from European citizens. The goals, principles, governance and methodology of the Conference are laid down in a Joint Declaration co-signed by the Presidents of the European Parliament, European Commission and Council on 10 March 2021. The CoFoE outcomes are included in its final report.

 

CoFoE was launched on 9 May 2021 in Strasbourg. It comprised a series of physical and digital conferences, panels and debates involving European citizens, with young people playing a central role in the process. These activities were organised by the EU institutions, member states and civil society actors at the European, national and local level. The core elements of the Conference included:

  • Four thematic Citizens’ Panels, each gathering 200 randomly-selected and representative EU citizens while reflecting the Union’s diversity. They offered space for discussions resulting in recommendations forwarded to the Conference Plenary. The Panels were dedicated to the following topics:
    • Panel 1: Stronger economy, social justice, jobs and education, youth, culture, sport and digital transformation.
    • Panel 2: Values, rights, rule of law, democracy and (internal) security.
    • Panel 3: Climate change, environment and health.
    • Panel 4: EU in the world and migration.
      In addition, citizens were free to raise additional topics.
  • A multilingual Digital Platform served as a database of all CoFoE events organised by the institutions and civil society, and allowed for the submission of EU reform proposals which could be discussed and endorsed by individual citizens.
  • The European Youth Event (EYE2021) which brought together over 10,000 young Europeans in Strasbourg and online between 8-9 October 2021 as a culmination of the youth CoFoE consultations led by the European Parliament.
  • Decentralized events organised by citizens and civil society. 
  • The Conference Plenary including members of the European Parliament (108) and national parliaments (108), representatives of the Council (54) and European Commission (3), as well participants of the European Citizens’ Panels (80), participants of national events and National Citizens’ Panels (27), representatives of the Committee of the Regions (18), regional and local authorities (6+6), European Economic and Social Committee (18), social partners (12), civil society (8), and the European Youth Forum (1). The Plenary discussed the proposals made by the Citizens’ Panels and popular ideas from the Digital Platform, adopting conclusionsincluded in the final report prepared by the Conference Executive Board and addressed to the European Parliament, Council and European Commission. The Conference Plenary included nine Working Groups dedicated to the following 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.

The Presidents of the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission committed to follow up on the Conference recommendations within their competences and while respecting the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. 

The social media hashtags of the Conference were #CoFoE and #TheFutureIsYours.

Conference launch: 9 May 2021 (Strasbourg, France).

European Citizens’ Panels:

  • Inaugural event: 17 June 2021 (Lisbon, Portugal).
  • Panel 1: Stronger economy, social justice, jobs and education, youth, culture, sport and digital transformation:
    • Session 1: 17-19 September 2021 (Strasbourg, France).
    • Session 2: 5-7 November 2021 (online).
    • Session 3: 25-27 February 2022 (Dublin, Ireland) – final recommendations.
  • Panel 2: Values, rights, rule of law, democracy and (internal) security:
    • Session 1: 24-26 September 2021 (Strasbourg, France).
    • Session 2: 12-14 November 2021 (online).
    • Session 3: 10-12 December 2021 (Florence, Italy – hybrid format) – final recommendations.
  • Panel 3: Climate change, environment and health:
    • Session 1: 1-3 October 2021 (Strasbourg, France).
    • Session 2: 19-21 November 2021 (online).
    • Session 3: 7-9 January 2022 (Natolin, Poland) – final recommendations.
  • Panel 4: EU in the world and migration:
    • Session 1: 15-17 October 2021 (Strasbourg, France).
    • Session 2: 26-28 November 2021 (online).
    • Session 3: 11-13 February 2022 (Maastricht, Netherlands) – final recommendations.

Conference Plenary (Strasbourg, France):

  • Inaugural session: 19 June 2021 (agenda).
  • 22-23 October 2021 (agenda; list of members).
  • 17-18 December 2021 – limited to the Working Group level due to COVID-19.
  • 21-22 January 2022 – discussing Panel 2 & 3 final recommendations (agenda).
  • 11-12 March 2022 – discussing Panel 1 & 4 final recommendations (agenda).
  • 25-26 March 2022 – developing proposals (agenda).
  • 8-9 April 2022 – developing proposals (agenda).
  • 29-30 April 2022 – adopting proposals (agenda).

Conference conclusion: 9 May 2022.

Our position and proposals

JEF Europe considers the Conference a major opportunity to reform the EU towards making it more united and democratic and we hope to use it as a basis for a Constituent Assembly to draft a European Constitution or a new EU Treaty.

In our resolution adopted at the Federal Committee meeting in April 2020, we called for the Conference to be an open process involving European citizens and civil society, centred on fundamental EU issues such as the allocation of competences between the national and the European level, fiscal autonomy and the completion of EMU, sustainable development goals, fighting inequality, updating the labour market to the new digital society, safeguarding the rule of law, the role of the EU on a global level and the relationship between national identities and federal citizenship. Essentially, we want the Conference to be a meaningful initiative followed by genuine legal, institutional and policy changes in key areas.

The Joint Declaration reasserts the EU’s commitment to implementing the Conference as a citizens-focused, bottom-up effort, explicitly including young people and civil society. It also recognises the necessity for an actual impact of citizens’ contribution on the EU reform. However, the document fails to mention the participation of non-EU citizens, including from potential EU Member States. The political commitment to follow up on CoFoE recommendations is present in the Declaration but made conditional on the existing competences of the institutions. This condition can mean the actual unwillingness to implement more far-reaching reforms and potential Treaty change. 

As federalists, we consider the closing date of 9 May 2022 as nothing more than a suggestion. We remain committed to working within the framework of the Conference even past that deadline, until it delivers on citizens’ expectations.

Below you can find JEF Europe’s proposals published on the CoFoE Digital Platform:

Joining forces with others

Starting in early 2021, JEF Europe was actively supporting the coordination of the Civil Society Convention on the Future of Europe. Co-chaired by JEF’s then Secretary-General Milosh Ristovski, the Convention was a platform of over 80 civil society organisations (CSOs) advocating for an ambitious Conference that takes citizens’ voices into consideration and is followed up by concrete policy and legislative proposals, including treaty change if needed. Members of the platform had 5 seats in the CoFoE Plenary as part of the Civil Society strand. 

JEF Europe in partnership with AEGEE Europe is also implementing the project Next Chapter Europe – Youth voice on the Conference on the Future of Europe in over 10 countries between January 2021 – June 2022. Aiming to raise awareness of and engage young Europeans in the Conference, it features:

    • A pan-European campaign launched by a simultaneous opening event in 6 places in cooperation with the European Parliament Liaison Offices 
    • Local consultation workshops on the ideas of young Europeans (April-December 2021).
    • A pan-European action commemorating the Schuman Declaration (9 May 2021). 
    • Creation of a participative exhibition on Europe’s past and future, presented at the European Youth Event (8-9 October 2021).
    • A series of workshops as part of the Strasbourg CSO Summit (6-8 May 2022).
    • A closing event presenting the campaign outcomes and charting the way forward (23-24 June 2022).

Between 5-8 May 2022, we co-organised the Strasbourg CSO Summitwith more than 40 civil society organisations, demanding  the implementation of all CoFoE proposals made by citizens in the process.

Outcome and follow-up

The Conference concluded on 9 May 2022 with 49 proposals and 329 measures adopted as its outcome. The proposals include, among others:

  • reopening the discussion on a European Constitution (proposal 39.7),
  • strengthening the role of the European Parliament, especially by giving it the right of legislative initiative and full powers to adopt the EU budget (38.4),
  • introducing transnational lists (38.3) and the Spitzenkandidaten system in the European Elections (38.4),
  • moving to qualified-majority voting in all decision-making that currently requires unanimity (39.1),
  • a better protection of the EU’s fundamental values (25, 38.1),
  • new own resources for the EU budget, i.e. EU-level taxes (16),
  • completion of the Banking Union (12.4),
  • a European army (23.1),
  • a human rights-based common migration policy (42, 43),
  • stronger EU competences and commitment in such areas as environmental protection and climate action (1-6), health (10.3), social affairs (14.1), and education (6.7, 37.1),
  • offering a credible accession perspective to potential EU members (24.10).

Most of these proposals are reflect JEF’s our 13 recommendations submitted on the CoFoE Digital Platform at the beginning of the Conference process.

On 9 June 2022, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for a Convention for the revision of the EU Treaties in order to implement the Conference proposals. The European Council of 23-24 June 2022 will discuss the next steps in the process.

 

Contact

Do you have any questions or suggestions about the Conference and JEF Europe’s role in it? Feel free to get in touch with:

Michal Rybacki, Policy Officer

Young European Federalists

Rue d’Arlon 53, 1040 Brussels

michal.rybacki@jef.eu