By Raphael Oni
The EU Executive Board agreed to allocate more seats in the Conference Plenary to regional and local elected representatives, as well as to social partners. The sixth meeting of the Conference’s Executive Board was the first one during the Slovenian Presidency of the Council.
The Board amended the Rules of Procedure by adding to the Conference Plenary six elected representatives from regional and six from local authorities. They also agreed to increase the number of representatives from the social partners by four, to a total of 12.
In addition, the Board exchanged views on the communication plan developed jointly by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. All three institutions will endeavour to continue coordinating their activities to boost public participation in the multilingual digital platform, and will encourage other bodies, especially those who participate in the Executive Board and the Plenary to do likewise.
The Board received an update on the organisation of the European Citizens’ Panels. They also discussed the working methods of the Plenary working groups in which representatives of the respective Panels will take part.
On behalf of the Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Slovenian Secretary of State for EU Affairs and co-chair, Gašper Dovžan, stated: “Today’s update in the conference set-up aims to bring Europe further beyond its capitals and gives greater voice to citizens from every walk of life. Every European has their own dreams and concerns about Europe and Europe must listen to each and every one of them when discussing our common future. We want as many Europeans as possible wherever they are to have their say so we can hear what kind of Europe they want to live in 30 years from now.”
During the discussion, the European Parliament’s co-chair Guy Verhofstadt said: “Today’s discussions and adjustments in the rules mean that we are nearing the end of the design phase of the Conference. We now look forward to the content phase with the ongoing collection of citizens’ ideas on the digital platform together with the proposals of the citizens’ panels starting work in September. These will all feed into the Plenary so that we are able to deliver on a more effective, responsive and democratic Union that our citizens demand and deserve.”
European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography, and co-chair, Dubravka Šuica, said “We are looking forward to the next phase of the process: the deliberations of the European Citizens’ Panels, which is the truly innovative aspect of the Conference on the Future of Europe.”
The Conference on the Future of Europe combines online and offline, local, regional, national and Europe-wide events, organised by civil society organisations and citizens, the European institutions, and national, regional and local authorities. The outcomes of these events, as well as the ideas related to the future of Europe, are being published on the multilingual digital platform.
The multilingual digital platform is fully interactive: people can engage with one another and discuss their proposals with fellow citizens from all Member States, in the EU’s 24 official languages. People from all walks of life and in numbers as large as possible are encouraged to contribute, via the platform, in shaping their future – and also to promote the platform on social media channels, with the hashtag #TheFutureIsYours. In September, the first sessions of the European Citizens Panels will take place.