Daniel Freund

7. May 2021

Citizen participation instead of backroom deals: This Conference can bring about real change!

The negotiators of the three EU institutions for the Conference on the Future of Europe (COFE) have agreed today on a useful composition and competences for the conference plenary:

  • With 108 national parliamentary representatives (4 per member state), 108 MEPs, 54 government representatives (2 per member state) and the 3 responsible Commissioners, the Conference Plenary will be representative enough to allow for diversity of opinions in Europe.
  • The randomly selected citizen assemblies (EU citizen panels) come as proposed by us Greens/EFA. 108 of the randomly selected citizens will represent the recommendations in the Plenary.
  • The Plenary, not the Executive Board alone, will elaborate the conclusions of the Conference. A transparency requirement prevents secluded backroom deals by the Executive Board.
  • The Plenary can develop informed responses to citizens’ proposals in committees and in the political groups of the EU party families.

 

Daniel Freund, representative of the Greens/EFA Group in the Executive Board of the Conference on the Future of Europe, comments:

“The Parliament and us Greens/EFA were able to push through a viable and democratic core of the Conference. The fact that the agreement was reached only a few hours before the opening of the Conference shows: The EU reform will be politically tough work. Until the very end, the Commission and the member states were reluctant to grant decision-making powers to the Conference Plenary. We were able to change that. A Conference that wants to initiate central reform projects must not negotiate its results in back rooms. They must be decided and supported publicly by a broad democratic majority.

“The Conference can now finally begin on 9 May. Together with the citizens, we are launching the most ambitious reform project in 20 years. The European Parliament has been working hard to ensure that citizens are not just providers of ideas at this Conference, but can actively help shape European policy. We have now found a viable compromise. The member states’ blockade so far gives a first taste of what is to come in the next few months: in our efforts to make Europe more democratic, closer to its citizens and more effective, we will be facing considerable opposition from Europe’s governments. The European Parliament stands united for a functioning Conference. Together with national parliamentarians, civil society and citizens, we have the potential to initiate fundamental reforms. The unprecedented opportunities for participation through the online platform and citizen panels allow Europeans to show in which regards they think bigger and more European than their governments.”

“To ensure that Europe makes progress on its reactiveness, even against all the odds, the Conference needs to set tough priorities. The European citizen panels need the necessary freedom but also precise questions to condense the broad citizen input into practical recommendations.”

 

 

 

Schedule:

The Executive Board meets Sunday, 9 May 12h, to adopt these draft rules of procedure, just before the official launch of the Conference from 2-3:30 pm, which will include speeches by, among others, French President Emmanuel Macron and the three Presidents David Sassoli (European Parliament), Ursula von der Leyen (Commission) and Antonio Costa (European Council).

 

Agreements of the Co-Chairs of the Executive Board

composition of the plenary

total of 433 participants

108 from EP and 108 from national parliaments (4 per Member State)

54 from Council (2 per Member State)

3 from Commission

 

80 representatives from European Citizens’ Panels + 27 (1 per Member State) from national citizen panels or national events + 1 from the European Youth Parliament/European Youth Forum

 

18 from both the Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions.

8 from both the Social Partners and civil society.

 

Tasks and working modalities

The Conference Plenary shall debate and discuss the recommendations from the national and European Citizens’ Panels, and the input gathered from the Multilingual Digital Platform, grouped by themes, in full respect of the EU’s basic principles and the Conference Charter, without a predetermined outcome and without limiting the scope to pre-defined policy areas. After these recommendations have been presented by and discussed with citizens, the Plenary will on a consensual basis put forward its proposals* to the Executive Board.

*Consensus has to be found at least between the representatives of the European Parliament, the Council, the European Commission, as well as representatives from national Parliaments, on equal footing. If there is a clear diverging position from representatives of citizens from national events and/or European or national citizens’ panels this should be expressed in the report by the Executive Board

 

Conclusions of the Plenary

Based on the Conference Plenary’s discussions and proposals, the Executive Board, acting on a consensual basis, shall draw up a report, in full collaboration and full transparency with the Plenary, which will then be published on the Multilingual Digital Platform.

 

Final provisions

The Executive Board shall present the final outcome of the Conference in a report to the Joint Presidency. The three institutions will examine swiftly how to follow up effectively to this report, each within their own sphere of competences and in accordance with the Treaties.

These provisions may be amended or supplemented by the Executive Board on a proposal by the Co-Chairs of the Executive Board.