The institutions of the European Union and more than 500 citizens gave feedback to the proposals of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CFE) in Brussels on Friday.
Demonstrating a sharp critical sense, most of the questions and comments made by representatives of civil society during the session criticized the lack of guarantees for implementation, but also objectivity and structure in the CFE discussions.
The possibility of launching a Convention to revise the EU Treaties was repeatedly mentioned, as well as the potential activation of passerelle clauses in the existing framework and the need to improve communication between the EU institutions. Participatory democracy lessons from this unprecedented exercise were also highlighted at the meeting.
“We have gained a lot of experience. Good and bad. Passing this on would contribute significantly to the constant improvement of a regular conference format,” said the lawyer Stephanie Hartung, a German representative to the CFE. “This conference must first be concluded before we open the next one. If you would like to make the future of Europe a matter for the citizens as well, please follow up on this high standard with action, not just today but in the future.”
“The majority of citizens also asked some very intelligent and interesting questions, however, no concrete ones,” complained Paolo, an Italian representative to the conference. Similarly to what said the Spanish representative, Jose Luis Hernandes: “We must think a little bit about the implementability or feasibility of the suggestions.”
Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President of the European Commission gave a very optimistic answer to the scepticism of the citizens present there.
“I think we have rather good news, because 80% of the ideas that were floated in the conference are crystalized in specific actions, included in the work program of the commission for next year, and these are fully budgeted. So that to cut the long story short: money, this time, it’s not the problem”, he declared.
The 49 proposals of the CFE include more than 300 measures, on nine themes, based on the recommendations of panels of European and national citizens, as well as contributions from national events.