A long-awaited chance to fix the EU?

Updated: 03/06/2021

About the Conference

The Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) is a series of consultations across the continent between May 2021 and Spring 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. 

 

 

CoFoE was launched on 9 May 2021 in Strasbourg. The Conference comprises 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 are organised by the EU institutions, member states and civil society actors at the European, national and local level. The core elements of the Conference include:

  • A series of European and National Citizens’ Panels, gathering randomly-selected Europeans while reflecting the EU’s diversity. The panels will offer space for discussions resulting in recommendations forwarded to the Conference Plenary. There will be four thematic European Panels:
    • Values, rights, rule of law, democracy & security.
    • Climate change, environment & health.
    • Stronger economy, social justice, jobs & education, youth, culture, sport & digital transformation.
    • EU in the world & migration.
    • In addition, citizens will be free to raise additional topics.
  • A multilingual Digital Platform serving as a database of all CoFoE events organised by the institutions and civil society, and allowing for the submission of EU reform proposals which can be discussed and endorsed by individual citizens.
  • Decentralized events organised by citizens and civil society. The organisers must commit to respecting the fundamental EU values while organising the events.
  • 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), European Economic and Social Committee (18), social partners (8), civil society (8), and the European Youth Forum (1). The Plenary will discuss the proposals made by the Citizens’ Panels and popular ideas from the Digital Platform, adopting conclusions that will be included in the final report prepared by the Conference Executive Board and addressed to the European Parliament, Council and European Commission. 

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

 

While journalists, activists and politicians have used #CoFoE so far, the the hashtag promoted by the Conference is #TheFutureIsYours.

Launch: 9 May 2021 (Strasbourg, France).

European Citizens Panels:

  • Inaugural event: 17 June 2021 (Lisbon, Portugal).
  • Meetings: late-September 2021 – mid-January 2022.
  • Recommendations: mid-December 2021 and late-January 2022.

Conference Plenary:

  • Inaugural session: 19 June 2021 (Strasbourg, France).
  • Sessions: October 2021, December 2021, January 2022.
  • Preliminary proposals: mid-February 2022.

Final event: late-April 2022.

Our position

JEF Europe considers the Conference a major opportunity to reform the EU towards making it more united and democratic, ideally being the first step towards 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. 

Moreover, the planned length of the Conference has been reduced from 2 years to approximately 9 months. As federalists, we consider the closing date of Spring 2022 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 – we invite you to read, discuss, endorse and share them:

Joining forces with others

To strengthen our impact, together with the Union of European Federalists (UEF), we lead the CSO Network on the Future of Europe, an informal group of civil society organisations advocating for a meaningful Conference. Since early 2021, JEF Europe has been supporting the coordination of a Civil Society Convention, a broader initiative of European civil society organisations (CSOs) demanding their official recognition by the EU institutions as a partner within the framework of the Conference. As a universal platform, it complements the CSO Network which is more focused on advocating for a specific design and follow-up of the Conference. JEF Secretary-General Milosh Ristovski is one of the two Co-Chairs of the Convention. 

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 – February 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, to be presented at the European Youth Event (October 2021).
    • An action tour across Europe to present the outcomes of the consultation workshops to a broader audience and collect feedback on them (September-December 2021).
    • A closing event presenting the campaign outcomes and charting the way forward (January 2021).

All activities as part of the project will have online and offline components, while the latter can be limited if the public health situation does not allow to carry them out as planned. 

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:

Leonie Martin, JEF Europe President

Young European Federalists

Rue d’Arlon 53, 1040 Brussels

leonie.martin@jef.eu!

Michal Rybacki, Policy Officer

Young European Federalists

Rue d’Arlon 53, 1040 Brussels

michal.rybacki@jef.eu