CONFERENCE ON THE FUTURE OF EUROPE: NEW PETITION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

Eumans as part of the initiative kicked off with the EU CAN DO IT Petition to the European Parliament for a European response to the COVID19 social, economic and health crisis, together with the coalition Citizens Take Over Europe, we activated a new Petition to the European Parliament, entirely focused on the requests for a transparent and citizens-centered Conference on the Future of Europe. 

We contributed to the activation of this participatory democracy instrument, coupled with an open letter to Angela Merkel, to strengthen the dialogue between citizens and civil society organisation and elected representatives in the European Parliamet.

Below you find the press release and the full text of the Petition. 


CONFERENCE ON THE FUTURE OF EUROPE: The citizens open letter to Angela Merkel and petition to the European Parliament


08 October 2020 – The Citizens Take Over Europe coalition (CTOE) is addressing the EU institutions for the Conference on the Future of Europe through an open letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel, Presidents of the European Parliament and of the Commission and an official Petition to the European Parliament to open a co-creation process for the Conference on the Future of Europe.

As stated in the letter, the EU is at a crossroads in its history: the need for the European Union to transform into a social, sustainable, inclusive and democratic, and citizen-led project is greater than ever before. Citizens and civil society organisations from across Europe, call on key political figures to make true the promise of the proposed Conference on the Future of Europe to guide the EU out of the many crises with which it is confronted.

Among the different requests which CTOE intend to present to EU institutions, the open letter and the petition demands: 

– To Urgently commit to a timetable for the Conference on the Future of Europe, and engage civil society to co-design the Conference’s format

– To Put citizens centre-stage at all phases of the Conference, firmly anchor civil society’s role in the Conference’s structure, and use randomly selected citizens’ assemblies to achieve representation of less-represented groups.

 – To Pledge to follow-up to any significant reforms recommended by the Conference, including the possibility of treaty change.

As Daniela Vancic, from the CTOE coalition, explains: “the Conference on the Future of Europe is a rare opportunity that citizens have to sit at the decision-making table and co-create the Future of Europe that they want”.

More than 70 organisations, representing millions of citizens have already signed the pledge to decision-makers, calling for an inclusive process in both the designing of the Conference and in its implementation. 

Interinstitutional negotiations between the European Parliament, Commission and Council have already taken place, but behind closed doors, excluding citizens and leaving them completely in the dark. The CTOE coalition also submitted an official petition to the European Parliament calling for more transparency about the backdoor negotiations on the timeline and design of the Conference on the Future of Europe. The petition will prompt a response from the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament, where the members of the Committee will discuss the petition, with consideration of follow-up action.

The CTOE alliance is a continuously expanding group of civil society organisations formed in April 2020 with the objective of taking the lead in initiating a Citizens’ Conference on the Future of Europe to be organised with the support of citizens and civil society from all across Europe.

FULL TEXT OF THE PETITION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
 

We are writing to you with the negotiations on the Conference on the Future of Europe currently underway. The Conference, announced by President Ursula von der Leyen prior to her appointment as Commission President, promised that Europeans will build the future of the Union and that citizens should play a leading role in setting the priorities and level of ambitions of the EU. 

The expectations of the Conference are high, as they must be for the Conference to address and meet the challenges facing the European project at this critical moment in time. However, the way in which the Conference is currently being prepared is highly problematic: the three EU institutions are meeting behind closed doors to agree on a joint declaration and citizens are left completely in the dark. There is no attempt at involving citizens in designing the Conference, and citizens are not in any structured way updated on what is proceeding in the negotiations, let alone are they given the opportunity to contribute and co-create. This is against the spirit of Article 1 of the Treaty on the European Union, which states that decisions should be “taken as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizen,” as well as against the spirit of Article 15(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which states: “In order to promote good governance and ensure the participation of civil society, the Union’s institutions, bodies, offices and agencies shall conduct their work as openly as possible.”

Therefore, we call on the European Parliament to update citizens immediately on the interinstitutional negotiations, and to do so regularly, and to ensure that the joint declaration shows the necessary room and mechanisms for citizens and civil society to further co-create the Conference in the spirit of ‘equal partnership’ promised by Ursula von der Leyen (see political guidelines for the European Commission 2019-2024). In order to achieve this, we call upon you to:

  • Organise a public consultation on how to design and organise the Conference as soon as the joint declaration is published;
  • Ensure that citizens will be involved in setting the agenda of the Conference
  • Facilitate the establishment of an independent EU Civil Society Forum to monitor the Conference and the follow-up process
  • Establish a special European Parliament Working Group on the Conference on the Future of Europe that engages in dialogue with citizens and the EU Civil Society Forum regularly throughout the duration of the Conference 
  • Ensure that the joint declaration contains a clear follow-up mechanism and commitment in order to guarantee that citizens’ inputs are adequately and promptly followed up, and that a process of treaty change is launched, if so recommended by the Conference.

You may wish to read for more details the 10 principles for a citizen-centered Conference on the Future of Europe for the full Conference guide prepared by the Citizens Take Over Europe coalition. 

The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light the fragilities of the European Union and made clear that a participatory and transparent Conference on the Future of Europe is needed more than ever. At the same time, the pandemic enabled a stronger cooperation between civil society and the European Parliament, where other Petitions had been brought to your attention on the topic of a democratic and transparent response to COVID-19 (329-2020). We call on you to demonstrate your democratic courage to support the design and implementation of the Conference that the EU and its citizens need.