Sharing ideas and proposing initiatives to participate in the renovation of the European Union. These are the challenges that make the Conference a unique opportunity to give a voice to all European citizens who want to contribute to the growth and revitalisation of future Europe.
The Conference was launched on 9 May 2021, Europe Day, in the European Parliament building of Strasbourg, and relies on a multilingual digital platform launched on 19 April 2021 that enables citizens from across the Union to present their ideas and comments on initiatives proposed by others, as well as to create and take part in the events.
The Interinstitutional Joint Declaration of 10 March 2021 indicated the work of the Conference should cover the following topics
- Climate change and environment (link to platform)
- Health (link to platform)
- A stronger economy, social justice and employment (link to platform)
- The EU in the world (link to platform)
- Values and rights, rule of law, security (link to platform)
- Digital Transformation (link to platform)
- European Democracy (link to platform)
- Migration (link to platform)
- Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (link to platform)
The Conference also discuss cross-cutting issues related to EU's ability to deliver on its political priorities, including better regulation, application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, implementation and enforcement of European legislation and transparency.
The Conference on the Future of Europe concluded its work on 9 May 2022 with the delivery of the final outcome report to the European institutions during the closing ceremony of the Conference on 9 May 2022 in Strasbourg on the occasion of Europe Day.
The digital platform
The Conference, as explained in the Joint Declaration, is structured as a bottom-up, citizen-centred process by means of multiple events and debates organised throughout the Union at different European, national, transnational and regional levels, The Conference also relies on an interactive multilingual digital platform, where contributions can be provided on all the Conference themes, and events and/or activities relating to the debate on the future of Europe can be highlighted.
On 15 September 2021, the first interim report was published, presenting the first results of the analysis of the contributions submitted on the platform. The second interim report was then published on 15 October 2021, giving an account of the contributions received up to 7 September 2021. The third interim report was subsequently published in November 2021, followed by the February 2022 platform report and its final report in May 2022.
A progress report was also published periodically, offering an overview of the Conference activities at European level, notably as to the multilingual digital platform, the Plenary, and the Citizens' Panels, as well as the activities carried out at national, regional and local level. The first report covers the March-June 2021 period, while the second report covers the July-October 2021 period.
European Citizens' Panels
The Conference envisages European Citizens' Panels. They are a key element of the Conference as they aim at giving citizens a greater role in shaping the future policies and aspirations of the Union.
The four European Citizens' Panels are devoted respectively to:
- Panel 1) Stronger economy, social justice, employment, education, youth, culture, sport, digital transformation (link to the platform);
- Panel 2) Democracy / European values, rights, rule of law, security (link to the platform);
- Panel 3) Climate change, environment and health (link to the platform);
- Panel 4) EU in the world / Migration (link to the platform)
Each Panel is composed of 200 citizens from the 27 Member States (of which 22 are Italians) and is representative of the EU diversity through the same degressive proportionality as for the European Parliament composition and including at least one woman and one man for each Member State. One third of each Panel is composed of young people aged 16-25 (for the Panels composition, refer to this link).
Three deliberative meetings of at least two days were held for each Panel. The third session of the second panel took place in Florence at the European University Institute. Each Panel produced a final report, namely.
Plenary Assembly of the Conference
The Rules of Procedure of the Conference, approved by the Executive Board on 9 May 2021 and then amended on 19 July 2021, provide that the Plenary Assembly shall be chaired by the 3 Co-Chairs of the Executive Board and shall be composed of overall 449 participants, including:
- 108 Members of the European Parliament;
- 108 representatives of national Parliaments (4 members per Parliament, 2 per Assembly within bicameral systems).
The Italian Parliament is represented by Senators Alessandro Alfieri (PD) and Paola Taverna (M5S) and Deputies Matteo Luigi Bianchi (Lega) and Augusta Montaruli (Fratelli d'Italia).
- 54 Council representatives (two from each Member State).
The Italian Government is represented by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International
Cooperation, Luigi Di Maio, and the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Benedetto della Vedova (who alternate), and the Undersecretary for European Affairs, Vincenzo Amendola.
- 3 representatives of the European Commission;
- 108 representatives of citizens, with young people under 25 accounting for at least one third.
The 108 citizens' representatives are composed as follows: 80 representatives of the 4 European citizens' panels (20 for each panel), the President of the European Youth Forum, and 27 representatives of national events or panels (1 for each Member State. For Italy, Prof. Paola Severino, Chair of the Scientific Committee, was appointed.
- 18 representatives of the Committee of the Regions and 18 representatives of the Economic and Social Committee;
- 6 representatives elected by regional authorities and 6 representatives elected by local authorities;
- 12 representatives of social partners and 8 representatives of civil society.
The Plenary Conference discussed the recommendations of the European Citizens' Panels and the contributions collected by the multilingual digital platform, grouped by themes, in full respect of the fundamental principles of the EU and the Conference Charter.
The first meeting of the Plenary was held in Strasbourg in a hybrid format on 19 Jube 2021 and was dedicated to organisational and procedural issues.
The second plenary meeting took place on 23 October 2021, focussing on: Presentation, by the Co-Chairs of the Executive Committee and the Representatives of Citizens' Panels, of the work carried out by each European Panel; Report by the Representatives of the National Panels on the activities and events carried out; Report on the European Youth Event; Presentation, by the Co-Chairs of the Executive Committee, of the interim reports on the digital platform activity.
The third plenary session of the Conference took place on 17-18 December 2021, focussing on the presentation of the recommendations of European Citizens' Panels 1) and 2).
The fourth meeting session took place on 20-21 January 2022, dedicated to the presentation of the recommendations resulting from European citizens’ panels 3) and 4).
All the information on the plenary sessions is available on the Platform of the Conference.
The proposal for a Conference on the Future of Europe was formally put forward by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, at the beginning of her term of office: "I want Europeans to build the future of our Union," she declared in the Political Guidelines for the European Commission she chairs. "They should play a leading and active part in setting our priorities and our level of ambition. I want citizens to have their say at a Conference on the Future of Europe, to start in 2020 and run for two years."
The Conference, supposed to start on 9 May 2020, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Political Guidelines explicitly stated that the Conference
- should bring together citizens (including young people, who should be given an important role), civil society and the European institutions as equal partners;
- should be properly prepared, with a clear scope and objectives, via a common agreement among the Parliament, the Council and the Commission;
- would be followed up as decided through, if appropriate, legislative action or possible amendments to the Treaty.
On 18 January 2021, on the occasion of the first informal meeting of European Affairs Ministers under the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Conference on the Future of Europe was one of the topics under discussion. In their conclusions, the Member States expressed the hope that, thanks to the Conference, citizens would be involved in a broad debate on the future of Europe in the next decade and beyond, also in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Council expressed its position on 24 June 2020.
On 10 March 2021, the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, the President-in-Office of the EU Council, Antonio Costa, and the President of the European Commission signed, on behalf of their respective EU institutions, the Joint Declaration on the Conference on the Future of Europe.
On 24 March 2021, the first meeting of the Executive Committee was held, officially starting the work of the Conference on the Future of Europe. The Executive Committee, composed of representatives of the three institutions on an equal footing, oversees the work, process and organisation of the Conference. During the meeting, the Executive Committee agreed upon a number of essential points to start the work. First steps have been taken to ensure that citizens can soon start contributing to the Conference, in particular through a multilingual digital platform.
(Sources: European Parliament, European Commission, Digital Platform of the Conference on the Future of Europe, Senate)Conference on the Future of Europe