By the EESC Workers' Group

After a year of intense work, the Conference on the Future of Europe has finally issued its recommendations, presenting a set of ambitious proposals for a fairer, stronger Europe put forward by citizens from all over Europe, working together with social partners and other actors.

Citizens have made it clear that the European Union must do more in areas that matter to them, in particular in areas such as inequality, poverty, combating climate change and protection of democracy. This can be seen, for instance, in the inclusion of a Social Progress Protocol to ensure that social and labour rights are on an equal footing with the four fundamental freedoms of the single market.

Citizens also demanded a bolder Europe, one that acts in the international arena with a single voice, that is able to react to its environment and that becomes closer to its citizens and more transparent in its workings.

This work, however, must not end in a simple declaration of good intentions, or empty words. Real follow-up is fundamental. This means organising a convention and exploring the possibility of creating permanent structures for citizen participation, something for which the European Economic and Social Committee would be particularly well equipped. The EESC, as the house of organised civil society and deliberative democracy in the EU, must ensure that the ambitious proposals from citizens are turned into actual policies. Citizens were asked and they have responded.

The Workers' Group organised a high-level conference with members of the various components of the Conference to discuss the recommendations and possible follow-up for this very purpose, giving continuity to the process. Now it is the turn of the institutions to take action. (prp)