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Future of Europe: People's ideas at the Conference Plenary

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The second Plenary of the Conference on the Future of Europe heard from young people on EU change and took stock of progress of other parts of the Conference, EU affairs.

The Conference Plenary session took place on 23 October 2021 in Strasbourg and brought together citizens, representatives of EU institutions, national parliaments, and other stakeholders. The discussions revolved around ideas and reports from the European Citizens’ Panels, the European Youth Event (EYE2021), national panels and events, and the Conference’s multilingual digital platform.

Young people's visions

Representatives from the European Youth Event held earlier in October presented the Youth Ideas Report with the 20 most popular proposals for EU reforms coming out of the event. These included, among others, calls for transnational electoral lists at EU elections, a focus on soft skills and language studies at school, a more coherent EU foreign policy and putting an end to the member states’ right to veto Council decisions.

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“If there's one thing you should extract from today's report, it's that young people have a clear vision for the future of Europe and we are here to send this message,” said Martina Brambilla from Italy, one of three spokespersons from the event together with Greta Adamek (Germany) and Tommy Larsen (Denmark).

More contributions needed

The Conference is an inclusive process that counts on all Europeans’ contributions to determine how the EU should change. There have been around 9,000 ideas submitted so far on the Conference’s platform and more than 15,000 comments, Conference co-chairman Guy Verhofstadt reported.

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“There exists on the platform a wish to be constructive and to improve the EU as a project,” Verhofstadt said. “Some issues that come back regularly on different topics, are the end of unanimity [in decision-making], the strengthening of social dimension [...] and the need to keep diversity and multilingualism as a way to foster a real Europe of the citizens”. The highest number of ideas are in the fields of EU democracy and climate change and the environment.

Many participants in the debate noted that only 15% of the contributors on the platform have identified themselves as women, while 60% have registered as men (about 25% have not disclosed their gender).

“This underrepresentation means that women's priorities have been drowned out by men. How can we claim that all Europeans have been listened to, when the concerns of 50% of the population are missing?” said Elsie Gisslegård from Sweden.

Others expressed worries that given the hundreds of millions of Europeans, citizens’ participation in the initiative is relatively low. There were calls for more awareness raising and communication efforts, with a special focus on women, young people and people in rural areas.

A final report on the findings from the digital platform is expected in December, but Plenary members suggested it should continue to function after that and become a permanent channel for dialogue between institutions and citizens.

Citizens take centre stage in the debate

The Conference Plenary was the first one with a full composition after the four European citizens’ panels chose their representatives at their first meetings that took place in recent weeks. Representatives of Western Balkan countries, which are potential new EU member states, were also invited to participate. Meetings in working groups on 22 October prepared the session’s debates.

Citizens took active part in the discussions on all topics in the remit of the Conference and demanded that their voices be heard. Joémy Lindau, a young man from the French overseas region of Martinique, said: “You are saying that we [young people] are the future. I would like to turn to you and say that you [Plenary members] are the future and we place our hopes on you to listen to what we are calling for.”

The next two meetings of the Plenary will be held on 17-18 December and 21-22 January to discuss the recommendations of the four European citizens’ panels that will wrap up their work by then. Co-chair Verhofstadt underlined that these sessions will have a different setup, with more time for the representatives of the panels to present their conclusions and a debate with other Plenary members on the concrete topics.

Find out more on how the Conference on the Future of Europe works and what is the role and the composition of its plenary.

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European Parliament

Future of Europe: Citizens’ panels take the floor

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Citizens’ panels will meet over the coming months to discuss the EU’s future and make recommendations. Find out more, EU affairs.

The Conference on the Future of Europe is putting people at the centre of the discussion on how the EU should evolve to face future challenges. Citizens’ panels have an important role to play: they will discuss ideas from events across the EU and proposals submitted through the Conference platform and will make recommendations to be discussed with EU institutions and other stakeholders.

Who is taking part?

There are four European citizens’ panels, each one including 200 citizens. Panel members have been selected randomly, but in a way that reflects the EU’s diversity. For example, there will be an equal number of men and women in each panel as well as a proportional representation of Europeans from urban and rural areas. Young people between 16 and 25 will make up one third of the members.

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What will be discussed?

Each panel will deal with some of the topics on which people have been invited to propose ideas:

  • Stronger economy, social justice and jobs/education, culture, youth, sport/digital transformation;
  • European democracy/values and rights, rule of law, security;
  • climate change, environment/health, and;
  • the EU in the world/migration.


Panel members will be able to raise additional issues. Independent experts will be available at the meetings to provide advice.

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When will citizens’ panels meet?

Each of the panels will meet three times. The first sessions took place over four weekends between 17 September and 17 October in Parliament’s premises in Strasbourg. The second sessions will take place online in November and the third sessions will be held in December and January in cities across the EU, if the health situation permits.

The schedule for the four citizens’ panels

PanelTopicsFirst sessionSecond sessionThird session
1Stronger economy, social justice and jobs /education, culture, youth, sport/digital transformation17-19 September5-7 November3-5 December (Dublin)
2European democracy/values and rights, rule of law, security24-26 September12-14 November10-12 December (Florence)
3Climate change, environment/ health1-3 October19-21 November7-9 January (Warsaw)
4The EU in the world/migration15-17 October26-28 November14-16 January (Maastricht)

What will be the outcome?

Panels will formulate recommendations, which will be discussed at the Conference Plenary that brings together citizens, representatives of EU institutions and national parliaments as well as other stakeholders. Twenty representatives from each panel will take part in Conference Plenaries and will present the outcome of panels’ work.

The panels’ recommendations will feed into the final Conference report, which will be prepared in the spring of 2022 by the executive board of the Conference. The board comprises representatives of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission - the institutions that will have to follow up on the conclusions - as well as observers from all Conference stakeholders. The report will be drawn up in full collaboration with the Conference Plenary and will have to receive its approval.

How to follow panels’ work?

Panel sessions where all members meet will be streamed online. You will be able to find more details about them on the Conference platform. 

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European Parliament

Future of Europe: Citizens’ panels take the floor

Published

on

Citizens’ panels will meet over the coming months to discuss the EU’s future and make recommendations. Find out more, EU affairs.

The Conference on the Future of Europe is putting people at the centre of the discussion on how the EU should evolve to face future challenges. Citizens’ panels have an important role to play: they will discuss ideas from events across the EU and proposals submitted through the Conference platform and will make recommendations to be discussed with EU institutions and other stakeholders.

Who is taking part?

There are four European citizens’ panels, each one including 200 citizens. Panel members have been selected randomly, but in a way that reflects the EU’s diversity. For example, there will be an equal number of men and women in each panel as well as a proportional representation of Europeans from urban and rural areas. Young people between 16 and 25 will make up one third of the members.

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What will be discussed?

Each panel will deal with some of the topics on which people have been invited to propose ideas:

  • Stronger economy, social justice and jobs/education, culture, youth, sport/digital transformation;
  • European democracy/values and rights, rule of law, security;
  • climate change, environment/health, and;
  • the EU in the world/migration.
  • Panel members will be able to raise additional issues. Independent experts will be available at the meetings to provide advice.

When will citizens’ panels meet?

Each of the panels will meet three times. The first sessions will take place over four weekends between 17 September and 17 October in Parliament’s premises in Strasbourg. The second sessions will take place online in November and the third sessions will be held in December and January in cities across the EU, if the health situation permits.

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The schedule for the four citizens’ panels

PanelTopicsFirst sessionSecond sessionThird session
1Stronger economy, social justice and jobs /education, culture, youth, sport/digital transformation17-19 September5-7 November3-5 December (Dublin)
2European democracy/values and rights, rule of law, security24-26 September12-14 November10-12 December (Florence)
3Climate change, environment/ health1-3 October19-21 November7-9 January (Warsaw)
4The EU in the world/migration15-17 October26-28 November14-16 January (Maastricht)


What will be the outcome?

Panels will formulate recommendations, which will be discussed at the Conference Plenary that brings together citizens, representatives of EU institutions and national parliaments as well as other stakeholders. Twenty representatives from each panel will take part in Conference Plenaries and will present the outcome of panels’ work.

The panels’ recommendations will feed into the final Conference report, which will be prepared in the spring of 2022 by the executive board of the Conference. The board comprises representatives of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission - the institutions that will have to follow up on the conclusions - as well as observers from all Conference stakeholders. The report will be drawn up in full collaboration with the Conference Plenary and will have to receive its approval.

How to follow panels’ work?

Panel sessions where all members meet will be streamed online. You will be able to find more details about them on the Conference platform.

Conference on the Future of Europe 

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European Parliament

Conference on the Future of Europe: What is it and how does it work?

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The Conference on the Future of Europe is a chance for Europeans to influence where the EU is heading. Find out more, EU affairs.

Conference on the Future of Europe  infographic.
Conference on the Future of Europe: how it works  

In a world fighting a pandemic and looking for solutions to long-term challenges such as climate change, the EU is committed to an open, democratic debate with people about what it should focus on.

Inclusive, democratic process

A recent Eurobarometer survey showed that 92% of Europeans want people's voices "taken more into account in decisions relating to the future of Europe". The Conference aims to make this happen.

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The European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission invite all Europeans to share their ideas about how Europe should evolve, what the priorities should be and how to prepare for a post-Covid world. The EU institutions want to consult as many people as possible, with a special focus on young people.

The Conference is more than a listening exercise. The contributions that people make on the online platform feed into debates with MEPs, members of the national parliaments, government and EU representatives, as well as other stakeholders. These debates will become the foundation for policy proposals that will be turned into concrete EU action. Parliament, the Council and the Commission have pledged to listen to people's proposals and follow up on the Conference’s outcome.

All Europeans are welcome to take part in this process, regardless of their age, gender, education or professional background. Parliament wants to especially ensure the active participation of young people and used its European Youth Event (EYE) in October 2021 to gather their visions on Europe’s future.

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How does it work?

The digital platform of the Conference was launched on 19 April. It allows people to share and discuss ideas online as well as prepare events across the EU, where and when the health conditions allow. These events serve as another source of ideas for change. The member states are also organising citizen-driven events.

European citizens’ panels are bringing together people from different walks of life. The panels, which started their work after the summer, are looking at the ideas put forward on the platform and holding discussions on what needs to change in the EU. There are four citizens’ panels of 200 members each working on different themes:

  • Stronger economy, social justice, jobs, education, youth, culture, sport and digital
    transformation.
  • European democracy, values, rights, rule of law, security.
  • Climate change, environment and health.
  • The EU in the world and migration.

Each of the panels will meet at least three times and is free to define its priorities. Their recommendations will be presented to the Conference Plenary.

The Conference Plenary has a central role in the Conference as representatives of the EU institutions, the governments and national parliaments meet there with citizens to discuss and develop proposals for change. The European Parliament pushed for a politically strong Plenary with many elected representatives as well as an important role for citizens.

Conference on the Future of Europe infographic.
The Conference Plenary: who is taking part?  

The inaugural plenary session took place on 19 June in Strasbourg with remote and physical participation. The second session is scheduled for 22-23 October and more sessions will follow to discuss the recommendations coming from the citizens’ panels. Find out the timeline of the entire Conference.

Find out who the European Parliament’s representatives are in the Conference Plenary.

The executive board is responsible for the functioning of the Conference. It consists of representatives of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, as well as observers.

What will come out of the Conference?

The outcome will depend on the recommendations that people make and the subsequent debates.

The final report, expected in the spring of 2022, will be drawn up by the executive board based on proposals approved by the Conference Plenary. The report will be prepared in full collaboration with the Plenary and will have to receive its approval. It will then be submitted for follow-up to the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission.

Parliament has underlined that the Conference should have a real impact on how the EU is set up and what it does to ensure people’s voices and concerns are at the centre of the EU’s policies and decisions.

More information 

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Europe Day: discover the European Union on 9 May 2021

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Building tomorrow’s Europe: EU paves way for Conference on the Future of Europe

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