On June 18 over 50 civil society organizations across Europe, including Culture Action Europe, joined Citizens Take Over Europe in signing an open letter to the Co-Chairs and Executive Board of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE), calling for the inclusion of marginalised communities in the Conference.
The letter, which was sent in advance of the inaugural plenary of the CoFoE on June 19 in Strasbourg in hybrid format, highlights a key concern that the Conference will lead to the further marginalisation of citizens and residents that are already sidelined given the process and plans that are currently in place.
One of the primary demands of the letter is for the Conference organizers to “develop a strategy of inclusion in relation to the Conference to ensure that marginalised communities are adequately represented and involved in the Conference, and to do so in consultation with civil society actors.” According to the letter cosigners, the Conference has not made adequate provisions to include marginalised and underrepresented communities at this time. While the European Citizens’ Panels are designed to be a primary mechanism of the Conference to reach underrepresented people, no quotas have been set to ensure the representation of underrepresented groups such as racialised people, LGBTQI+ people, people with disabilities, etc. In addition, the main decision-making body, the Conference Plenary – which will deliberate per consensus -, has not provided any proposal on how to ensure adequate representation of these groups either.
The Conference platform provides resources and guidelines regarding the promotion of diversity and inclusivity within CoFoE-related events, but it remains that the execution of such work occurs outside of the executive-level planning of the Conference itself. A number of civil society organizations are creating projects and events focused on inclusivity in line with the Conference framework.
Culture Action Europe (CAE) is directly focusing on how to bring marginalized voices to the Conference platform through the project, “Amplify: Make the Future of Europe Yours.” Amplify is a project co-funded by the European Parliament currently working across 12 European countries that brings underrepresented voices in the cultural sector to the CoFoE. Through local group sessions organised by CAE members, individuals collaborate together in order to create a recommendation in their local language(s) outlining ideas, proposals, recommendations, and concerns about the vision of the future of Europe. These recommendations will be submitted on the CoFoE platform in October so that they can be picked up in the discussions in the citizens’ panels. CAE will also disseminate the overarching recommendations to EU decision-makers as an input to the process. In May 2022, CAE will continue the project through the organization of a hackathon on the Future of Europe that will have both local and online elements and will be open to participants from all over Europe.
As the CoFoE continues to be shaped by the voices of individuals and civil society organizations across Europe, work to further diversify these voices and break barriers to participation will be ongoing. The Open Letter organizers are continuing to accept additional signatures in order to further build and strengthen their coalition and work towards gaining the appropriate measures needed to build stronger, inclusive and cohesive societies across Europe.
Learn more about Amplify: Make the Future of Europe Yours here.
Read the full open letter here.