The Conference on the Future of Europe held its first plenary session in Strasbourg on Saturday morning, hoping to encourage citizens, who are not yet very involved, to participate in this large-scale consultation on the future of the European Union. for.
“This conference is a unique experience,” said MEP Guy Verhofstadt in the chamber of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, which had already hosted the conference’s opening ceremony on 9 May in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron. He then spoke of an “unprecedented exercise” for the next ten years of mapping.
Verhofstadt, the European Parliament delegation coordinator, compared the conference to a relay race, and explained that citizens would first state their wishes before the plenary session. The latter would then prepare “concrete proposals for reforms” and eventually submit them to EU institutions for implementation.
Involving citizens, even digitally
“What we are trying to do now is get European citizens to talk to each other and form ideas about the Europe we want to build,” said current EU President Ana Paula Zakarias at the meeting. which mainly consisted of 108 members. of the European Parliament, 54 representatives of the Council, three members of the European Commission, 108 representatives of national parliaments and 16 representatives of social partners and civil society.
However, 108 citizens, who must also attend the plenary convention, are still being elected and are therefore not expected to attend until after the summer, which has led to criticism.
In addition to the plenary, the Conference on the Future of Europe will take the form of a multilingual online platform where European citizens can share their vision for the future of Europe. In France, a “citizen’s consultation” is also planned for the autumn.
While citizens’ participation in the debate remains the biggest unknown, the forum, which went live in mid-April, attracted more than 17,700 participants on Saturday. The population of the European Union is approximately 450 million people.
Proposals arising from the conference are expected in the spring of 2022.
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