The Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) is finally set in motion. The joint declaration on the Conference was officially signed on 10 March by President Sassoli for the European Parliament, Prime Minister Costa of Portugal – who is holding the rotating EU presidency – on behalf of the Council and Commission President von der Leyen.
The first formal event to kick-start the conference is envisaged on 9 May, Europe’s day, in Strasbourg: the premises look promising. As the European Commission President, Ursula Von der Leyen put it: “It is as true today as it was in the days of Schuman (…) that when it comes to the future of Europe, no effort is too much, no dream is too bold.”
The CoFoE is meant to give citizens a greater role in shaping the Union’s future, its policies, and visions, improving its resilience. Citizens will have the chance to express their views on the issues that matter to them, paving the way for a democratic future of the European Union.
A series of events will facilitate a discussion of the challenges the EU is facing, including those brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Reflecting the strategic agenda of the EU, the Conference on the Future of Europe also will address policy topics such as climate change, economic and social issues, and digital transformation.
A long-awaited start of the process, however, has also been met by some reservations from the civil society. As recalled by the European Movement (EMI) and Young European Federalists (JEF Europe) public statements, in order to become an exercise of inclusive and effective participation, the CoFoE needs to involve the civil society social partners, young people, underrepresented groups, and local and regional governments in a structured way. Otherwise, organisations fear that the voices of citizens won’t be fully represented and their contributions might not have a significant impact.
Aligned with this proposition, Culture Action Europe has joined the Civil Society Convention on the future of Europe, an initiative coordinated by the Civil Society Europe, that aims to create a direct link between European civil society organisations and the Conference Plenary, ensuring transparency and compliance with European citizens claims and aspirations.
Another initiative geared towards a similar purpose is Cultural Deal for Europe, an overarching framework that puts culture at the heart of the European project, also calls to engage artists, creatives, cultural workers, heritage operators, independent, amateurs, non-profit, volunteers, and civil society organisations in the process. Cultural Deal for Europe is jointly developed by Culture Action Europe, the European Cultural Foundation, and Europa Nostra, also in its capacity as coordinator of the European Heritage Alliance.
Culture Action Europe is preparing for a project launch to bring voices of the cultural community, artists, creatives, cultural organisations to the Conference on the Future of Europe. “Amplify: Make the Future of Europe Yours” will engage with cultural agents and mediators at the intersection of arts and society by mobilising cultural initiatives that work with underrepresented communities to bring together the ideas, concerns, hopes, and demands of those groups across Europe to include in the vision of the Future of Europe. In 2021, Amplify will launch a Europe-wide campaign, which will lead towards a culminating hackathon event in 2022. Stay tuned for more information.