The final CoFoE Citizens’ Panel

February 25, 2022, 9:03 am

Over the course of the next three days, 25-27 February, the final of four European Citizens’ Panels of the Conference on the Future of Europe is meeting in Dublin to debate and deliver its recommendations. The European Citizens Panel on ‘ a stronger economy, social justice and jobs / education, culture, youth and sport / digital transformation’ has already met twice to work on its recommendations – in Strasbourg in September and online in November.

Earlier in the week, Citizens Takeover Europe (CTE), an organisation that has been carefully monitoring the activities of the Conference, wrote another article questioning how the Conference will be handled in its final stages. Heading into this final Citizens Panel today, CTE questions if the Conference Plenary is able and willing to develop a parliament-like dynamic and include perspectives previously excluded in order to fully realise an open, transparent and wholly democratic Conference process.

CTE goes on to say that as the Conference Plenary has primarily functioned as a place for debate on citizens’ recommendations, it is of crucial importance to have this debate followed by a transparent and accountable process, ensuring that the words of the politicians in Plenary are matched by their actions. There is currently little information provided on how exactly Conference Plenary will take their debate on citizens’ recommendations and develop their proposals to the Executive Board. One suggestion included in the article is the use of a Parliament Method, which includes the implementation of a well-structured public voting process with a double majority requirement: decisions need simple majority support among all Conference Plenary members, as well as simple majority support among Conference Plenary members of each institutional component of the Conference (i.e. the European Parliament, the Commission, the Council, the national parliaments).

In addition to Citizens Takeover Europe and other civil society organisations that have been calling on CoFoE leadership for more accountability and inclusivity at the Conference, those who have participated in contributing to the Conference platform also wait to understand in what ways their input is actually being considered and taken up into action.

CAE’s project, “Amplify: Make the Future of Europe Yours,” yielded contributions to the Conference platform from diverse groups of cultural agents Denmark, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

As a result of this, the CoFoE third interim report, which covers contributions up to 3 November 2021, culture and the creative sector finally gained mention within the “Education, culture, youth and sport” topic.  “Creative Professionals” was added to the list of key themes synthesized from submissions within this topic. Under this theme, the report points to the Amplify Portugal Hub in the discussion about the professionalisation of cultural workers. The Slovenia Hub’s recommendation was linked to as an example of conversations regarding support for organisations that operate at the local level and the establishment of an integrated system of national and regional co-financing that would facilitate more international cultural cooperation. One final idea regarding the cultural and creative sectors focused on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the working conditions of cultural practitioners, as well as creative communities, which linked to the European Committee of the Region’s call for a ”status for the European artist” and a legal framework covering the health and safety of all cultural workers and artists in their working environment. The Amplify project was also mentioned as a featured event, linking the Amplify Press Launch, the Portugal Hub’s second Amplify Session, and the Slovenia Hub’s opening event as examples of the diversity of the sub-topics that are included on the CoFoE digital platform.

Since the third interim report, Culture Action Europe has also submitted an Amplify collective recommendation, “Centre Culture in the Future of Europe,” to the Conference platform. This document first presents the key focus areas of the issues that project participants discussed as most affecting underrepresented communities across Europe. The recommendations were developed to address these key focus areas, as well as provide background information from the Amplify Hubs regarding how each recommendation was developed.

The participants of the Amplify project are also waiting to see in what ways their voices have been heard and will be responded to following the conclusions of the Conference.

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