On Europe Day, 9 May 2021, the European Parliament in Strasbourg hosted the inaugural event of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE). The EU leaders presided over an inaugural ceremony for the launch of the participatory process set up jointly by Parliament, Council and Commission that aims at engaging citizens in re-shaping the EU. This whole exercise may – or may not – lead to revisions of the Union’s organizing treaties.
During the blended inaugural event, the Presidents of the EU institutions delivered speeches on their vision for Europe, following a welcome speech by French President Emmanuel Macron. Erasmus students from across the EU, together with members of the Conference’s Executive Board were physically present, while over 500 citizens attended the event remotely.
The inaugural event was titled “The Future is In Your Hands” — a reference to the CoFoE’s objective to gather the views and opinions of European citizens. As recalled by David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament: “There are many proposals, many things to think about, every institution puts forward its own priorities and citizens need to help us to understand the spirit of the times, which requires more Europe. All these reflections and those that emerge from our citizens may well need an update of our treaties.”
“For the first time in a generation, more people worry that their children will not be better off than them,”- said Ursula von Der Leyen, President of the European Commission: “This shows that we need a new form of solidarity and social justice between generations.”
After the speeches, the Co-Chairs of the Executive Board answered questions posed by citizens from across EU Member States. MEP Guy Verhofstadt answered the question on how we can foster culture in Europe by stating: “Arts and culture (…) are alive in Europe. They touch our emotions, as Europeans. Culture needs to be at the heart of our project, because it is the most solid basis of the European Union,” he added.
Regarding the future procedures, the Executive Board will soon set the date for the first Conference Plenary meeting, which is expected to happen by mid-June. Preparations for the Citizens’ Panels are underway as well as the European Youth Event organised by the European Parliament in October.
Culture Action Europe is participating in the Conference through the upcoming project, “Amplify: Make the Future of Europe Yours.” Amplify’s main goal is to gather ideas, proposals, recommendations, and concerns specifically about the vision of culture in the future of Europe. By focusing on bringing voices of the cultural community, across 12 European countries, to the CoFoE, the project seeks to provide the opportunity for EU institutions to interface with artists, creatives, cultural organizations that wouldn’t ordinarily have the opportunity to do so. As part of this project, Amplify will launch a Europe-wide campaign, engaging organizations, artists, activists, cultural players, and others to engage directly with the Future EU platform.
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