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

Updated: 15/10/2021

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:

  • Four thematic Citizens’ Panels, each gathering 200 randomly-selected Europeans while reflecting the EU’s diversity. They offer space for discussions resulting in recommendations forwarded to the Conference Plenary. The Panels will be dedicated to the following topics:
    • Panel 1: Stronger economy, social justice, jobs & education, youth, culture, sport & digital transformation.
    • Panel 2: Values, rights, rule of law, democracy & (internal) security.
    • Panel 3: Climate change, environment & health.
    • Panel 4: 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), 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 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 Conference Plenary includes 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 have 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 are #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 & education, youth, culture, sport & digital transformation:
    • Session 1: 17-19 September 2021 (Strasbourg, France).
    • Session 2: 5-7 November 2021 (online).
    • Session 3: 3-5 December 2021 (Dublin, Ireland).
    • Recommendations presented to the Plenary: 17-18 December 2021.
  • Panel 2: Values, rights, rule of law, democracy & (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).
    • Recommendations presented to the Plenary: 17-18 December 2021.
  • Panel 3: Climate change, environment & health:
    • Session 1: 1-3 October 2021 (Strasbourg, France).
    • Session 2: 19-21 November 2021 (online).
    • Session 3: 7-9 January 2022 (Natolin, Poland).
    • Recommendations presented to the Plenary: 21-22 January 2022.
  • Panel 4: EU in the world & migration:
    • Session 1: 15-17 October 2021 (Strasbourg, France).
    • Session 2: 26-28 November 2021 (online).
    • Session 3: 14-16 January 2021 (Maastricht, Netherlands).
    • Recommendations presented to the Plenary: 21-22 January 2022.
  • Feedback event with the Conference Plenary: TBC 22-24 April 2022.

Digital Platform reports – proposal overviews:

  • First interim report: 10 September 2021.
  • Second interim report: 15 October 2021.
  • Third interim report: 1 December 2021.
  • Final report: TBD mid-February or mid-March.

Conference Plenary (Strasbourg, France):

  • Inaugural session: 19 June 2021 (agenda).
  • 22-23 October 2021 (agenda).
  • 17-18 December 2021 (discussing Panel 1-2 proposals).
  • 21-22 January 2022 (discussing Panel 3-4 proposals).
  • 18-19 February 2022 (preliminary Plenary proposals presented).
  • 11-12 March 2022.
  • TBC 22-24 April 2022 (feedback event with the Citizens’ Panels).

All major CoFoE events are live-streamed on the front page of the Conference Digital Platform and via the EP Multimedia Centre.

Our position and proposals

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

Since early 2021, JEF Europe has been supporting the coordination of the Civil Society Convention on the Future of Europe. Co-chaired by JEF’s Secretary-General Milosh Ristovski, the Convention is 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 have 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 – 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