The European Institutions are currently working on their contributions to the Conference on the Future of Europe. The European Parliament resolution of 15 January 2020 called for an open and transparent process which takes an inclusive, participatory and well-balanced approach towards citizens and stakeholders and marked a kick-off in shaping the final setting of the Conference. Meanwhile, the European Council conclusions of 12 December 2019 called on the Croatian Presidency to begin work on the Council's position. The Croatian Presidency has itself listed the Conference among its Presidency Priorities and now the Council of ministers is working on a more concrete proposal from the member states. On 22nd January the Commission presented its guidelines for the conference in a Communication.
After this exercises, it is of crucial importance that the three institutions work together towards a Joint Declaration to define the concept, structure, scope and timing of the Conference on the Future of Europe, as well as setting down its jointly agreed principles and objectives. This joint declaration was one of the demands made by the Union of European Federalists in our Resolution of the UEF Federal Committee on a declaration on the Conference on the Future of Europe. Furthermore, according to the Commission this Joint Declaration should later be open to other signatories including institutions, organisations, stakeholders and civil society organisations. National and regional Parliaments and actors have an important role to play in the Conference and should be encouraged to hold Conference-related events.
In this section you will find all information and updates on the last published documents by the European Institutions. Moreover, you can also check what are our proposals for the Conference on the Future of Europe in the section: Federalists proposals.
THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
Parliament was the first among the three main EU institutions to adopt a position on the set-up and scope of the upcoming Conference. Negotiations with the Commission and the European Council should be concluded in time for the Conference to be launched on Europe Day 2020 (May 9) and run until summer 2022. Parliament’s position reflects the most recent survey findings. In the Parlemeter on “Heeding the Call beyond the Vote” (September 2019), European citizens continued to support a more important role for the Parliament, while data from the Commission’s Standard Eurobarometer (November 2019, Table 102) show that 83% of respondents want “EU citizens’ voice to be taken into account more on decisions on the future of Europe”. Parliament has with its position urged Council and Commission to commit to the possibility of treaty change.
The European Parliament Parliament has created a working group to contribute to the design of the Conference, in particular in respect of its structure, with a view to a vote in plenary. Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) has also launched discussions, confirming the eagerness of Parliament and its political bodies to play an active part from the beginning of this process. Following a debate with Dubravka Šuica, Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography and Nikolina Brnjac, representing the Croatian Presidency of the Council, Parliament adopted a resolution setting out its vision for the upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe with 494 votes for, 147 against and 49 abstentions.
MEPs want citizens to be at the core of broad discussions on how to tackle internal and external challenges that were not foreseen at the time of the Lisbon Treaty. People of all backgrounds, civil society representatives and stakeholders at European, national, regional and local level must be involved in setting the EU’s priorities in line with citizens’ concerns in a bottom-up, transparent, inclusive, participatory and well-balanced approach. Parliament proposes establishing several Citizens’ Agoras (thematic fora of citizen representatives chosen randomly in line with proportionality and representativeness criteria), and at least two Youth Agoras, each comprising 200-300 citizens with a minimum of three per member state. Citizen representatives will discuss Agora conclusions at the Conference Plenary with MEPs and national parliament representatives, Council ministers, Commission Vice-Presidents and representatives of other EU institutions, bodies and social partners (see chart of the Conference here). In addition to high-level support from the presidents of the three main EU institutions, Parliament urges Council and Commission to commit to the possibility of treaty change.
You can catch up with the debate here:
THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION
The European Commission has recently set out its ideas for shaping the Conference on the Future of Europe in its Communication adopted on 22nd January 2020. The Communication is the Commission's contribution to the already lively debate around the Conference on the Future of Europe – a project announced by President Ursula von der Leyen in her Political Guidelines, to give Europeans a greater say on what the European Union does and how it works for them. According to the European Commission, "the Conference will build on past experiences, such as citizens' dialogues, while introducing a wide range of new elements to increase outreach and strengthen ways for people to shape future EU action. The Conference will allow for an open, inclusive, transparent and structured debate with citizens of diverse backgrounds and from all walks of life". The Commission has stated its commitment to follow up on the outcome.
President Ursula Von der Leyen proposes two parallel work strands for the debates. The first should focus on EU priorities and what the Union should seek to achieve: including on the fight against climate change and environmental challenges, an economy that works for people, social fairness and equality, Europe's digital transformation, promoting our European values, strengthening the EU's voice in the world, as well as shoring up the Union's democratic foundations. The second strand should focus on addressing topics specifically related to democratic processes and institutional matters: notably the lead candidate system and transnational lists for elections to the European Parliament
The Commission sees the Conference as a bottom-up forum accessible to people well beyond Europe's capitals, from all corners of the Union. Other EU institutions, national Parliaments, social partners, regional and local authorities and civil society are invited to join. A multilingual online platform will ensure transparency of debate and support wider participation. The Commission is committed to taking the most effective actions, with the other EU institutions, to integrate citizens' ideas and feedback into EU policy-making. All Members of the College will play their part in helping to make the Conference a success, with Vice-President Šuica leading the Commission's work on the Conference, supported by Vice-President Jourová on the institutional strand, as well as Vice-President Šefčovič on the foresight and inter-institutional side.
The Commission, like the Parliament, proposes to officially launch the Conference on Europe Day, 9 May 2020 - 70 years after the signing of the Schuman Declaration and 75 years after the end of the Second World War.
The European Council considered the idea of such a conference at its meeting on 12 December 2019. It asked the Croatian presidency to work towards defining a Council position on the content, scope, composition and functioning of the conference and to engage, on this basis, with the European Parliament and the Commission.
On 28th January 2020, the Ministers of the Governments Member States exchanged views on the proposed Conference on the Future of Europe due to start in 2020 and end in 2022. During the discussion, ministers stressed the importance of putting citizens at the heart of the conference and focusing on issues that truly matter to them. As underlined in the conclusions of the December European Council, priority should be given to implementing the Strategic Agenda for 2019-2024 and delivering concrete results. The conference should contribute to the development of EU policies in the medium and longer term in order to better address the challenges facing Europe. Building on the success of the citizens’ dialogues which have taken place over the past two years, the process should involve a wide range of stakeholders and groups to ensure that different views and opinions are represented. Ministers also expressed their views on the detailed organisation of the conference. Many speakers underlined the need to ensure a balanced representation of the three EU institutions and to fully involve national parliaments. Several ministers also expressed their preference for a lean and simple governance of the conference process. The presidency concluded that discussions would continue after the Council meeting with a view to defining the Council position on the conference and engaging with the other EU institutions.