The scheduled conference on the Future of Europe is to be an
unprecedented democratic showcase project of the European Citizens' Initiative
and is to be shaped and organised by the three European institutions – the EU
Parliament, the Council and the Commission. This is based on a proposal made by
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her 2019 policy guidelines.
This proposal stated that the wishes of EU citizens should be heard better in
Schedule cancelled due to coronavirus
The conference was supposed to start on 9
May, the annual Europe Day, and last for two years. The EU Parliament wants
citizens, representatives of civil society and interest groups at European,
national, regional and local level to be involved in defining EU priorities.
Although the European Council commissioned
the design of the conference end of 2019, discussions on its specific
implementation proved very difficult as the Council did not adopt the mandate
for six months. The COVID-19 crisis has overshadowed everything and a political
deadlock, as with this project, is noticeable. As a result, the concept has
largely been brought to a halt.
Lack of motivation?
In the European institutions the conference
has already been nicknamed "the Loch Ness Monster". The conference
repeatedly appeared in various meetings and priority lists and disappeared
again without having made substantial progress. The European Parliament reacted
with indignation and exerted pressure by means of a motion for a resolution in April to bring the conference
back onto the politically relevant stage. MEPs call for open public
participation, evaluable measures on the results of the conference, including a
commitment by the three major EU institutions to EU reforms in line with
citizens' concerns, possibly including a review of the EU treaties.
Crisis Manager Germany
Croatia's EU Presidency has kindly left
this difficult task for Germany to solve. COVID-19 in particular has very
clearly shown EU's institutional weaknesses, which need to be discussed and
solved in the long term. Confidence in Germany's EU Presidency is high, thus
pressure too. The EU Council must take a certain position and commit itself to
reforms which are laid down in the Conference on the Future of Europe.
In her presentation of the priorities of Germany's EU Presidency
made to the European Parliament on 9 July in Brussels, German Chancellor Angela
Merkel also explicitly mentioned the relaunch of the Conference on the future
of Europe to give a new impetus to European politics. The conference is to
tentatively kick-start by autumn 2020, but whether this is actually feasible remains
to be seen.