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Conference on the Future of Europe: Greater say for regions and social partners

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The Executive Board agreed to allocate more seats in the Conference Plenary to regional and local elected representatives, as well as to social partners.

The sixth meeting of the Conference's Executive Board was the first one during the Slovenian Presidency of the Council.

The Executive Board amended the Rules of Procedure by adding to the Conference Plenary six elected representatives from regional and six from local authorities. They also agreed to increase the number of representatives from the social partners by four, to a total of 12.

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In addition, the Board exchanged views on the communication plan developed jointly by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. All three institutions will endeavour to continue coordinating their activities to boost public participation in the multilingual digital platform, and will encourage other bodies, especially those who participate in the Executive Board and the Plenary to do likewise.

The Board received an update on the organisation of the European Citizens' Panels. They also discussed the working methods of the Plenary working groups in which representatives of the respective Panels will take part.

In today's discussions, the European Parliament's Co-Chairman Guy Verhofstadt said: “Today's discussions and adjustments in the rules mean that we are nearing the end of the design phase of the Conference. We now look forward to the content phase with the ongoing collection of citizens' ideas on the digital platform together with the proposals of the Citizens' Panels starting work in September. These will all feed into the Plenary so that we are able to deliver on a more effective, responsive and democratic Union that our citizens demand and deserve.”

On behalf of the Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Slovenian Secretary of State for EU Affairs and Co-Chairman Gašper Dovžan, stated: “Today's update in the conference set-up aims to bring Europe further beyond its capitals and gives greater voice to citizens from every walk of life. Every European has their own dreams and concerns about Europe and Europe must listen to each and every one of them when discussing our common future. We want as many Europeans as possible wherever they are to have their say so we can hear what kind of Europe they want to live in 30 years from now.”

European Commission Democracy and Demography Vice President and Co-Chairwoman Dubravka Šuica, said “We are looking forward to the next phase of the process: the deliberations of the European Citizens' Panels, which is the truly innovative aspect of the Conference on the Future of Europe.”

Background

The Conference on the Future of Europe combines online and offline, local, regional, national and Europe-wide events, organised by civil society organisations and citizens, the European institutions, and national, regional and local authorities. The outcomes of these events, as well as the ideas related to the future of Europe, are being published on the multilingual digital platform. They will serve as a basis for further discussions at four European Citizens' Panels, comprised of the main topics of the Conference. Some 800 randomly selected citizens, reflecting the EU's socio-economical, demographic and educational diversity, will participate at several deliberative sessions of these four European Citizens' Panels, 200 citizens per each panel. They will come up with ideas and recommendations that will feed into the Conference Plenaries, and ultimately into the Final Report of the Conference.

The multilingual digital platform is fully interactive: people can engage with one another and discuss their proposals with fellow citizens from all Member States, in the EU's 24 official languages. People from all walks of life and in numbers as large as possible are encouraged to contribute, via the platform, in shaping their future - and also to promote the platform on social media channels, with the hashtag #TheFutureIsYours.

Next steps

In September, the first sessions of the European Citizens Panels will take place.

More information

Multilingual digital platform

European Commission

InvestEU: Commission appoints Investment Committee

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The European Commission on Tuesday, 27 July, appointed 12 external experts as members of the Investment Committee of the InvestEU Fund for a term of four years. The 12 members of the Investment Committee – four permanent and eight non-permanent members – were selected and appointed by the Commission at the recommendation of the InvestEU Steering Board. They represent a broad knowledge and expertise in the relevant fields and sectors covered by the InvestEU programme. The Investment Committee will be gender-balanced and include members from across the EU to ensure deep insights in geographic markets in the EU.

The appointment of the independent Investment Committee is another milestone for the implementation of the InvestEU programme, which will provide the EU with crucial long-term funding, crowding in the necessary important private investments in support of a sustainable recovery and helping build a greener, more digital and more resilient European economy. The Investment Committee decides on the granting of the EU guarantee to investment and financing operations proposed by the implementing partners under the InvestEU programme. The fully independent Committee is taking its decisions based on the guarantee request form and scoreboard provided by the implementing partners to ensure compliance with the InvestEU Regulation and the Investment Guidelines. The Investment Committee will operate in four compositions, corresponding to the four policy windows of the InvestEU programme: sustainable infrastructure; research, innovation and digitalisation; small and medium-sized companies; and social investment and skills.

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Cyber Security

Cybersecurity: All EU member states commit to build a quantum communication infrastructure

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With the latest signature by Ireland of the political declaration to boost European capabilities in quantum technologies, cybersecurity and industrial competitiveness, all Member States have now committed to work together, along with the European Commission and the European Space Agency, to build the EuroQCI, a secure quantum communication infrastructure that will span the whole EU. Such high-performing, secure communications networks will be essential to meeting Europe's cybersecurity needs in the years to come. A Europe fit for the Digital Age Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said: “I am very happy to see all EU Member States come together to sign the EuroQCI declaration – European Quantum Communication infrastructure initiative - a very solid basis for Europe's plans to become a major player in quantum communications. As such, I encourage them all to be ambitious in their activities, as strong national networks will be the foundation of the EuroQCI.”

Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton added: “As we have recently seen, cybersecurity is more than ever a crucial component of our digital sovereignty. I am very pleased to see that all member states are now part of the EuroQCI initiative, a key component of our forthcoming secure connectivity initiative, which will allow all Europeans to have access to protected, reliable communication services.”

The EuroQCI will be part of a wider Commission action to launch a satellite-based secure connectivity system that will make high-speed broadband available everywhere in Europe. This plan will provide reliable, cost-effective connectivity services with enhanced digital security. As such, the EuroQCI will complement existing communication infrastructures with an additional layer of security based on the principles of quantum mechanics – for example, by providing services based on quantum key distribution, a highly secure form of encryption. You can find more information here.

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European Commission

Fisheries: EU and Cook Islands agree to continue their sustainable fisheries partnership

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The European Union and the Cook Islands have agreed to continue their successful fisheries partnership as part of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement, for a duration of three years. The agreement allows EU fishing vessels operating in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean to continue fishing in the Cook Islands fishing grounds. Environment, Oceans and Fisheries CommissionerVirginijus Sinkevičius said: “With the renewal of this Fisheries Protocol, European Union vessels will be able to continue fishing one of the healthiest tropical tuna stocks. We are particularly proud to contribute, through our sectoral support, to the development of the Cook Islands' fisheries sector - a Small Island Developing State that has been often praised for its effective and responsible fisheries management policies. This is how the EU's Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements work in practice.”

In the framework of the new Protocol, the EU and ship owners will contribute with a total up to approximately €4 million (NZD 6.8m) for the next three years, of which €1m (NZD 1.7m) to support the Cook Islands' initiatives within the sectoral fisheries and maritime policy. Overall, next to improvements in the fishing sector, the revenue obtained from this Agreement has previously allowed the Cook Islands' government to improve its social welfare system. More information is in the news item.

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