Ideas Conference on the Future of Europe

For an open, transparent and long-term conference

In this open letter to the presidents of the main European institutions, the Civico Europa alliance demands that the forthcoming consultation is not a simple PR operation, but rather an opportunity to enable the expression of the European public interest.

Published on 11 February 2021 at 09:00

Madam President, Dear Presidents,

As leaders of organisations, foundations and European civil society groups, as activists committed to economic and social issues, as artists, scientists, educators and media workers, all gathered within the CIVICO Europa alliance, we are delighted that an agreement is being negotiated for the organisation and launch of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

More than ever, in this period of unprecedented change, citizens expect a democratic, coherent and effective Union that is capable of responding to the medical, social, economic and financial crisis triggered by the pandemic, as well as meeting the challenges created by climate change, technological transformation and geopolitical rebalancing.

The success of this Conference will depend on how well it lives up to these expectations. Otherwise, there is great risk of a collective disillusionment that would be extremely detrimental to the European idea and pave the way, in the 2024 European elections, for populists of all kinds.

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This is why, through CIVICO Europa, the transnational civic organisation that brings us together, we urge you to consider these key conditions for the success of the Conference.

  1. To enable citizens and civil society to take control. They must be involved throughout the process, from its definition, implementation and conclusions, right up to their implementation.

This implies that the Executive Board of the Conference should include the social partners and representatives of civil society, the media and European economic, social and cultural organisations, as well as local and regional authorities with the status of full members or observers;

  1. Respecting the repeatedly expressed desire of the Institutions and Member States to involve citizens in the debate and decision-making process on the future of the Union, implies the definition of a common methodology aimed at enabling this process to guarantee :
  • the level of transparency, integrity and rigour necessary for its credibility;
  • the truly inclusive representation of European civil society and that of the candidate countries, selected by lot;
  • the inclusion of the results of these deliberations in the Conference conclusions. 

Only by respecting these criteria, by creating instruments capable of implementing them, by putting the necessary structures and financial resources to work, can we mobilise and meaningfully involve all of European civil society — its social, economic and cultural organisations, as well as its local and regional authorities — in a transnational debate that will enrich and strengthen our Union.

  1. Draw up a timetable for the implementation of this project that is commensurate with its ambitions and the nature of the decisions being taken:

To this end, we consider it harmful to condense the Conference into a one-year period. Such a timeframe will make the Conference seem rushed, undermine its credibility, and ensure it becomes a public relations operation instead of a major opportunity for the expression of the public interest. 

It therefore seems preferable to structure the Conference around different types of results:

  • With the 2024 European elections in mind, we must have proposals for improving the democratic functioning of the Union as early as next year;
  • The revision of existing policies and the elaboration of a shared vision of the Union for 2030 – 2040 must be given time according to their complexity.

Madam President, Presidents, this current moment for the Union requires everyone – institutions, governments, civil society organisations, regional, national and European representatives – to bring about a deep change in the vision, structure and functioning of our Union. 

We must all rise to the challenges of our time, aware that the future of Europe depends on our Union's ability to reassure its citizens, to respond concretely to their needs and priorities, to defend their interests and the values of democracy, solidarity, justice, and the respect of rights and freedoms. 

In our view, this will only be possible when each and every citizen feels that he or she is an actor in the transformation of the Union.

We look forward to discussing these recommendations with you as soon as possible.

The signatories:

Danuta HÜBNER, Member of the European Parliament, former European Commissioner

Luca VISENTINI, General Secretary, European Trade Union Confederation

Guy VERHOFSTADT, MEP, former President, ALDE Group in the EP

Pascal DURAND, Member of the European Parliament  

Brando BENIFEI, Member of the European Parliament

László ANDOR, Economist, SG of FEPS, former European Commissioner

Luca JAHIER, Member, former President, Economic and Social Committee   

Karl Heinz LAMBERTZ, Member, former President, Committee of the Regions

Daniel COHN-BENDIT, former President, Green group in the EP

Mercedes BRESSO, former Member of the European Parliament 

Jo LEINEN, former Member of the European Parliament, 

Sneska QUAEDVLIEG-MIHAILOVIC, Secretary General, EUROPA NOSTRA

Christophe LECLERCQ, Founder, EURACTIV

Philippe de BUCK, Managing Director Emeritus, BUSINESS EUROPE

Alessia CENTONI, President, European Women Association 

Alexandra MITSOTAKI, President, WORLD HUMAN FORUM

Stojan PELKO, former Minster of Culture of Slovenia

Claus HAUGAARD SORENSEN, former Director General of the Commission 

Jonathan MOSKOVIC, Democratic Innovation Advisor

Michele FIORILLO, Member, CIVICO Europa

Francesca RATTI, Co-President of CIVICO Europa, former Deputy SG of the EP

Guillaume KLOSSA, Co-President of CIVICO Europa, former EBU Director


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