The Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE )ended with discussions about how the European Union (EU) can improve based on the suggestions of citizens from across member states. Heinz Bierbaum, the President of the European Left (EL), comments:
“During the CoFoE, numerous recommendations for changes to the EU and its policies were elaborated. The ideas include, among others, the strengthening of social Europe, expansion of workers’ rights and binding social rights. The citizens spoke up for progressive economic, health, asylum policies, tackling of the climate crisis, the introduction of minimum standards for the quality of food and the lowering of the voting age in EU elections from 18 to 16 years.
According to Věra Jourová , the Commission’s Vice President, about as much as half of the proposals require a treaty change. Those have to be changed if we want an active and democratically controlled Union, more investment in social services and a social-ecological transformation of industry.
It was a year ago that the CoFoE officially began its work. The organisers set very ambitious goals but they missed the expectation of a true participative and broad process, which is mirrored by the very low citizens participation. We’re also still facing the dilemma about the form of the outcomes and how the Council will take the recommendations. Nevertheless the consultation has shown that there is a need for more popular participation on the development of the EU and more democratic forms of codetermination.
Now the EU institutions must deliver and must not let the results of the conference go up in smoke. In other words, we need to ensure that citizens’ voices will be heard after decades of neoliberal policies.”