Ideas Civil society and the EU

Co-creating a citizens-centered Conference on the Future of Europe

The Citizens Take Over Europe coalition is addressing the EU institutions for the Conference on the Future of Europe through an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the heads of the EU institutions, as well as a petition to the European Parliament to open a co-creation process for the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Published on 9 October 2020 at 07:16

The Citizens Take Over Europe coalition (CTOE) is addressing the EU institutions for the Conference on the Future of Europe through an open letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel, Presidents of the European Parliament and of the Commission and an official Petition to the European Parliament to open a co-creation process for the Conference on the Future of Europe.

As stated in the letter, the EU is at a crossroads in its history: the need for the European Union to transform into a social, sustainable, inclusive and democratic, and citizen-led project is greater than ever before. Citizens and civil society organisations from across Europe, call on key political figures to make true the promise of the proposed Conference on the Future of Europe to guide the EU out of the many crises with which it is confronted.


Dear Ms. Merkel,

Dear Mr. Sassoli, 

Dear Ms. von der Leyen,

We are writing to you at the outset of what we hope will be a historical semester of the European Union. The EU is at a crossroads in its history: the need for the European Union to transform into a social, sustainable, democratic, and citizen-led project is greater than ever before. This is why we, citizens and civil society organisations from across Europe, are calling on you to make true the promise of the proposed Conference on the Future of Europe to guide the EU out of the many crises with which it is confronted.

The Future of Europe is under decision right now: the “Next Generation EU” Recovery Fund will double the EU budget to alleviate the ongoing consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, and strengthen European solidarity towards a deeper political Union, potentially affecting every aspect of the EU’s action. The debate on the use of the biggest recovery fund in EU history cannot take place exclusively behind the closed doors of the Council. While we urge you to agree on a bold and ambitious economic response as soon as possible, we recognise that the relaunch of Europe cannot only be economic – it must also be democratic. Because of its historical importance, a civic debate on the use of funds and the long-term reforms needed should be integral to the basis on which to convene the Conference on the Future of Europe, and new mechanisms for citizens to participate in an ongoing way in the governance of the EU should be explored.

Accordingly, we call on you to:

– Urgently commit to a timetable for the Conference on the Future of Europe, and engage civil society to co-design an empowering format for the Conference from the bottom-up, through which citizens feel ownership.

– Ensure complete democratic legitimacy by putting citizens centre-stage in the discussions at all phases, make special efforts to involve minorities and youth, and firmly anchor civil society’s role in the Conference’s structure. Citizens must not only be consulted but also be participants, even through randomly selected Citizens’ Assemblies.

– Pledge to follow-up to any significant reforms recommended by the Conference, including the possibility of treaty change.

The need for transnational collaboration and supranational action is greater than ever before. The EU is facing multi-faceted unprecedented challenges: COVID-19 and its socio-economic implications, the climate crisis, Brexit and global geopolitical instability. These challenges can only be overcome if citizens are given a role in addressing them. The Conference on the Future of Europe offers the best opportunity to develop this shared ownership among citizens, civil society, Member States, and EU institutions. But it needs to be designed, implemented, executed, and followed-up properly in order to achieve the intended effect.

If the Conference on the Future of Europe turns into a public relations exercise rather than a real and substantial attempt to bring in citizens’ closer to the EU, the Conference will feed the narrative of the EU’s democratic deficit. To prevent this, the Conference must be carefully designed, ensuring an open, transparent, inclusive, and participatory process, including a clear role for civil society, and there must be a strong commitment for meaningful implementation of its outcome.

If the Conference has the necessary democratic character, we, as European civil society organisations, stand ready to make a constructive contribution to it, and to mobilise citizens across Europe to do the same.

We count on you to make this new era of European participation one of new beginnings.

Thank you for taking important steps to make the democratic future of Europe a priority.

Democratically yours,

The Citizens Take Over Europe alliance and supporting partners

*Please click here to read our 10 principles for a citizens-centered Conference on the future of Europe


Citizens Take Over Europe alliance

  1. AEGEE-Europe
  2. Alliance4Europe
  3. Another Europe is Possible
  4. CitizensLab
  5. CIVICO Europa
  6. Co-Creating Europe
  7. Democracy International e.V.
  8. EUmans
  9. European Alternatives
  10. European Civic Forum
  11. European Democracy Lab
  12. European House
  13. EuropeanConstitution.eu
  14. Europe, a patient
  15. Eurotopia
  16. Fórum dos Cidadãos
  17. Mehr Demokratie e.V.
  18. mehr demokratie! Österreich
  19. Music Theater International
  20. New Europeans
  21. Pulse of Europe
  22. Take a Break from Brexit
  23. The ECI Campaign
  24. The Good Lobby
  25. WeMove Europe

Supporting Partners

  1. ACI – Centro InterCulturaCidade
  2. AlterEuropa
  3. Association of Certified Commercial Diplomats
  4. Associazione Luca Coscioni per la libertà di ricercar scientifica
  5. Basisdemokratie jetzt
  6. Bridging Europe
  7. Bundesnetzwerk Bürgerschafliches Engagement (BBE)
  8. Christians for Future Berlin
  9. Christians for Future Germany
  10. Citizens for Europe
  11. CROSOL – Croatian Platform for International Citizen Solidarity
  12. CUBE. Your Take on Europe e.V.
  13. Cultural Diversity Coalition
  14. Culture Solutions Europe
  15. European Citizens’ Rights, Involvement and Trust Foundation (ECIT Foundation)
  16. eCivis, asociacion para la promocion de la ciudadania active
  17. EFF – European Future Forum
  18. Engage Liverpool
  19. Europa Repubblica 
  20. Europa-Union Hochtaunus e.V.
  21. Europa-Zentrum Potsdam
  22. Europe Direct Informationszentrum
  23. European Movement Italy
  24. European Partnership for Democracy
  25. EuroPeers Maastricht
  26. Foundation Open Society Macedonia
  27. Friends of the European Republic
  28. Friends of the Homeless, Dublin
  29. Fundació Aroa
  30. Imagine Europe
  31. Institute of Public Affairs Poland
  32. Italissyme
  33. LIMA-Theater
  34. Lodzkie Dziewuchy Dziewuchom
  35. Mediation Hub BG Association 
  36. Parents for Future Berlin
  37. PHILEUROPA Deutschland – Fileuropa Italia
  38. Pulse of Europe Berlin
  39. Pulse of Europe Fulda
  40. Pulse of Europe Munich
  41. Pulse of Europe Toulouse
  42. Science for Democracy 
  43. Sortition Foundation
  44. Stati Generali delle Donne
  45. Transition Town Saarbrücken
  46. Vote&Vous
  47. Voxeurop
  48. YMCA Albania

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