CoFoE: Europe must shape its future if we don't want others to do it

Statement by EESC President Christa Schweng on the closing of the Conference on the Future of Europe

One year on, 7 plenaries and 12 Citizens' Panels later, we can draw a line and state that a positive step has been taken for participatory democracy. The Conference on the Future of Europe has empowered ordinary Europeans, along with policy-makers, to deliver 300 practical recommendations aimed at shaping our future for the better.

The Conference reached its conclusions reflecting the rich discussions that took place and these conclusions were then approved by all components. This proves that "United in diversity" is more than just a slogan. It is our strength and a guarantee of success.

With the official closing event on 9 May, we need to open a new chapter in the Conference process. The citizens' proposals are now in the hands of the EU's leaders and it will be crucial to move from recommendations to tangible results for European employers, workers and civil society at large.

To achieve this and to ensure transparency, a follow-up tool is needed. This is why, from the beginning, I have proposed the creation of a dashboard that allows anyone to consult the responsible body, the state of play and the timeline for implementing measures. Transparency, as well as fair representativeness, is essential for a participative democracy.

The Conference on the future of Europe should pave the way for similar initiatives in the future. In the long term, a permanent structured dialogue with citizens based on the lessons learned from the Conference, with the EESC as the institutional intermediary, would help keep Europeans engaged in shaping their future. The European Economic and Social Committee will be happy to act as facilitator and guarantor of enhanced participatory democracy activities.

The expectations that the Conference raised among citizens, the current international situation and emerging future challenges require us to be proactive and not just reactive. The European Union will not find change, strength and resilience by only responding to emergencies. Europe must evolve from a champion in crisis management into a world champion in shaping the future. Let us build on the Conference and ensure it is a success, not just for now, but and in particular from now on.

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