When reflecting on Europe Day, one of the most important days that binds our common history, our present and future, I cannot help but feel honored and humbled to be able to contribute to the construction of the European project. To be able to share and exchange ideas with each and every one of you, and most of all, to be of service to citizens in one of the greatest peace projects of all time. My work and focus is driven by the essence of this idea, the idea of peace and unity, an idea that came to life and became our home, our Europe.
Ahead of Europe Day, I would like us all to reflect on what Robert Schuman might say about today’s European Union and the impact his vision continues to have on our daily lives. It is the Schuman Declaration that makes it possible for us to be here today. As he did then, now is the time for us to speak of our dreams and ambition for our future, one that strengthens engagement with citizens across the European Union.
Today, it is more clear than ever that it is not politicians alone who are shaping the future of Europe. Our future is in the hands of each and every one of us. We want to build a new European dream together, with our citizens. We need to rethink what it means for us representatives to be at the service of our citizens. In this sense, Robert Schuman’s vision to ensure that Europe remains vital to the preservation of peace is very much alive today.
Conference of the Future of Europe
A lot has changed in the past year, for all of us. Many factors altered the way we live, work, communicate and connect. Our Democracy is also changing. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. Democracy itself is not static, it constantly evolves and politicians and decision-makers must evolve along with it. But only with citizen empowerment and engagement can we truly have a chance of making our democracy “fit for the future”.
As attitudes and expectations shift, we know that citizens are eager to have a greater say in democracy, beyond simply voting at elections. The Conference on the Future of Europe is our answer to that call, and your opportunity to bring forth the ideas that will decide our future. Europeans everywhere have already started deliberating and engaging with each other and policy-makers to shape the future European Union they want. This means that we are already hearing the brilliant ideas of citizens from all walks of life and all corners of the Union, from the highest peaks of mountains to the most distant islands in our seas. From my home to yours, we are all co-creating the future European project.
How you can participate: The three P’s
Your participation matters, and you can do this in a number of ways. We have created the three pillars of the Conference, the Multi-lingual Digital Platform, the European Citizens Panels and the Conference Plenaries, to ensure that everyone can contribute to the debates, share their ideas, and co-create their future- including you! Here is more on how it works.
On the 19th of April, we launched a Multi-lingual Digital Platform, which creates a public space for people across the European Union to engage. On this platform you can share your ideas, find events that interest you and follow the progress and outcomes of the Conference, in all 24 official EU languages. Here you will find the 9 broad topics being suggested for debate, from climate change and social justice, to democracy and values. But there is also a 10th heading that is completely open and there you can add in any additional topics you believe deserve attention.
Then we have the European Citizen Panels. They will be composed of randomly-selected citizens and will represent the EU's diversity in terms of geographic origin, gender, age, socioeconomic background and level of education. Young people will make up one-third of each panel, we will ensure that people from urban and rural areas are included, and at least one female and one male citizen per Member State will be included. Therefore, by sharing your contributions in this Conference, you will have the opportunity to come up with ideas and policy recommendations that will feed into the Conference Plenary, which will feed into the final report, and this will directly influence EU policy-making! This is where your ideas come to life. I also hope that similar citizen panels will be organised at national and other levels to ensure the broadest participation possible in this unique exercise.
Your voice matters
When the Conference draws its conclusions in the Spring of 2022, my hope is to see as many contributions and ideas from citizens as possible. I look forward to hearing from those who do not usually engage with us, including those who are critical or sceptical of the European project. I simply hope that we can actively engage with everyone, of all ages, all levels of society, including our children. The sight of children lining the streets to call for climate action or as human rights defenders show us that they are already active citizens and agents of change.
I know all too well that democracy and peace can never be taken for granted. But we must not be disheartened when we hear those who want to maintain a monopoly on power and refuse to acknowledge that our democracy must evolve to survive and to be stronger. This Conference is a historic, unprecedented opportunity for all of Europe. You, as citizens, are at the heart of Europe. We welcome you to become an even greater part and contribute to our policy-making. The future is in your hands, I invite you to grasp it and build it, the way that you envision it. Happy Europe Day.
- Publication date
- 8 May 2021
- Directorate-General for Communication