Speech by Diversity Europe Group President Séamus Boland on the EESC Resolution on the Conference on the Future of Europe

Plenary debate on the EESC Resolution

Dear colleagues,

When I think about what is going happen over the next year with the Conference on the Future of Europe, one word springs to mind: opportunities! Opportunities for citizens and for civil society organisations to be heard and to shape the future. But also opportunities to bring about sustainable and people-centred change

I would like to concentrate my comments on three points which are important to us as Group III and which appear in the final version of the resolution.

Firstly, this process is an opportunity to shape the future we want! It is an opportunity to put civil society firmly in the driving seat! What we want to see come out of the Conference, is a genuine recognition by European and national authorities, that civil society are guardians of the common good. That they are integral to identifying solutions. To acknowledge that civil society has a key role in building trust, shaping public opinions and activing as positive agents of change.

Secondly, the Conference on the Future of Europe is an opportunity to bring about a mind-shift. A change in thinking, where the future and post-Covid recovery will have go hand in hand with policy coherence and the Sustainable Development Goals. Poverty reduction is of course the first objective of the SDGs and must be at the heart of our future.

Thirdly, any discussion on the future of the EU has to take into account that the Covid-19 pandemic has nurtured greater respect among citizens for the values of solidarity, social justice, inter-generational cooperation, gender equality, just green and digital transitions. Now is the time to leverage public support for those values, in order to re-think our growth and governance models. To build a more equal society based on citizen's well-being. To embrace new definitions of well-being and development beyond GDP, whilst also respecting the opinions and rights of citizens.

These are the three key messages that the Diversity Europe Group would like to put centre stage in this resolution, thank you.  

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Speech by Séamus Boland