Statement of EESC president Christa Schweng

I welcome the signature of the joint declaration between the European Commission, European Parliament and the Council that sets out the Conference on the Future of Europe. The European Economic and Social Committee is looking forward to actively contributing to the debate, being invited as an observer.

I am pleased that the important role and involvement of organised civil society in the conference was confirmed. The EESC is looking forward to preparing a substantial and valuable contribution, working closely with hundreds of organisations that our members represent. We are ready to bring our bottom-up expertise to enrich the work on a new, convincing narrative for the EU.

The Conference on the Future of Europe is a unique opportunity for societies in the European Union. Businesses, workers, farmers, consumers and NGOs are finally able to engage in a structured way and have their say in shaping future EU policies. This is urgently needed to give them a sense of ownership of their European Union. The goal of shaping the future of a European Union emerging even stronger from the COVID-19 crisis can only be achieved through active engagement with citizens and other stakeholders coming from all walks of life.

The pandemic has made the discussion about the future of Europe and its challenges more important and timely than ever. We have to draw lessons from this crisis and further reflect on how to increase the resilience of our societies and economies. Other major topics could, in particular, cover: a vision of a resilient post-COVID-19 Europe that prospers economically, is socially inclusive and economically sustainable and responds to the dilemma of national sovereignty versus the need to find common European solutions.