The citizens’ Conference on the Future of Europe is attracting almost no attention. Launched in March 2021 jointly by the Parliament, Council and Commission, its aim is to allow citizens to discuss freely the challenges and priorities of Europe. The result of the Conference should enable the three EU institutions to draw up a list of priorities for future policies.
The conference was structured into four thematic panels, each consisting of 200 randomly selected citizens from all 27 EU Member States and matching gender, urban/rural context, age, socio-economic background and education level. One third of each panel consists of young people aged between 16 and 25. The working documents are available in all EU languages.
The 4 panels are:
Panel 1 – “Stronger economy, social justice, jobs, education, culture, sport, digital transformation”
Panel 2 – “EU democracy, values, rights, rule of law, security”
Panel 3 – “Climate change, environment, health”
Panel 4 – “EU in the world, migration”
In April plenary sessions were held for discussion of the final suggestions for the recommendations of the four panels.
We focus on the report of Panel 3 on Climate Change and Environment/Health.
There are 51 “Recommendations” divided into 5 themes: 1- Better ways of living; 2- Protecting our environment and our health; 3- Redirecting our economy and consumption; 4- Towards a sustainable society; 5- Caring for all.
Soil is mentioned in recommendation 14 (reforestation) and 32 (pollution).
This exercise in direct democracy, which we applaud, clearly reveals a vision of a Europe that is very different from the way it is currently organised. The Recommendations allow us to detect policies of openness, welcoming, solidarity, sharing, with careful attention paid to the environment and health and much, much less to profit. This is a frame of reference that is much more advanced than the timid policies currently being pursued, which shows once again that the citizens of Europe are ready for policies that are more European and more advanced than those put forward by the institutions.
What will be in the final report which is due out in May 2022?
We don’t want to be pessimistic, but probably … nothing, given the atttitudes of the current politicians and the European decisionmaking process which remains tied to the model of a closed room where 27 heads of State have the power to make the final decisions.
We would also ask, what happened to the outcome of the consultation held by Macron in France known as the “Citizens’ Convention for the Climate” (see our article from August 2020)?
It is always a good thing to consult the people in terms such as those of the citizens’ Conference and this is a tool that should be strengthened, but it can’t be a tool that is then ignored. We hope therefore that this time the European institutions will be led by what the Conference recommends. We live in hope … All Recommendations here: https://futureu.europa.eu/assemblies/citizens-panels?locale=en