On March 11th and 12th, 2022, delegates from the Convention for the Conference on the Future of Europe (COFOE) gathered in Strasbourg for the COFOE Plenary. They were made up of the leaders of our thematic clusters, Elisa Gambardella (Social Europe), Gabriella Civico (Our European Life), Assya Kravakova (Digital Transformation), and Antonella Valmorbida (European Democracy).
The Plenary concentrated mostly on the remaining Working Group panels that had still to debate and deliberate on the Citizen’s Panel’s Recommendation papers. There, THREE of our cluster leaders were given the opportunity to speak as Plenary members in their respective plenaries.
Their full interventions are as entailed below.
CSOCOFOE INTERVENTIONS AT THE PLENARY SESSIONS
“First of all, I would like to express solidarity to the people in Ukraine for the horrible situation that they are faced with. I speak here on behalf of civil society organizations, some of which are already on the frontlines of organizing solidarity for the Ukrainian people. It is our hope that this Conference will deliver on solidarity and its importance for social cohesion as a result of its debates on the Future of Europe, as well as a strong response to what is happening in Ukraine.
The recommendations of the citizens’ panels clearly point in this direction, and we welcome and support them, particularly those calling for fair working conditions and social protection for all. It is a call to shift to a more sustainable economic, environmental, and social model for Europe’s future. However, we believe that these individual recommendations can only be implemented successfully if they are complemented and supported by a vision and governance framework that allows the EU to deliver on these recommendations. In this regard, we believe they should also address the ongoing review of economic governance, which should replace the Stability and Growth Pact with a Sustainability and Wellbeing Pact; adopt indicators that are appropriate for measuring people’s well-being beyond GDP limits; and coherently adapt the Country Specific Recommendation to promote social and economic rights while acknowledging environmental boundaries.
Europe should not be afraid to experiment with post-growth strategies such as decoupling employment and social security systems from economic growth and designing subsequent welfare policies to address socio-ecological needs. We would like to hear from the citizens and other constituencies in this Conference if they agree that we need a bolder economic governance framework to follow up on the recommendations made by the panels, as well as their thoughts on this proposal.”
Social Europe | Elisa Gambardella’s full intervention at the Strong Economy, Social Justice and Jobs Plenary debate.
“Over the course of more than six months, the Civil Society Convention on the Future of Europe’s Digital Transformation Cluster crowdsourced more than 216 ideas from civil society organizations (representing nearly 500 CSOs across Europe). Those informed a policy paper with 38 Recommendations and 27 specific Calls for action in five areas: Digital Democracy, Digital Education, Digital Safeguards, Digital Economy and Digital Rights.
The conclusion is that Digital Transformation that leaves no one behind is not a pipe dream; it can become a reality if we make access to affordable, high-speed Internet a FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT for all citizens, ensure its enforcement through proper education and training on digital skills and competencies, and provide strong safeguards: against misuse of algorithms and disinformation and; for citizens’ privacy, GDPR-compliant use of data and healthy use of the Internet, framed by human right and democratic principles.
For more information, consult the Digital transformation Policy paper of the Civil Society Convention on the Future of Europe!”.
Digital Transformation | Assya Kravakova’s full intervention at the Digital Transformation Plenary debate.
“We welcome the “all of Europe approach” characterised by human rights and solidarity but we would like to see a stronger delinking of migration and security issues and call for decriminalising immigration and combating any form of “crime of solidarity”. CSOs fill the gaps left by public authorities and we stress the importance of volunteers supporting migrants in emergencies and their longer term integration. In this regard we call for the European Year of Volunteers 2025. We urge caution about migration policies aimed only at highly-paid and highly-skilled workers. In addition, not all migration is job based – the issue of family reunification should also be a clear basis for migration.
We would like to see policies for women and girls that ensure that they are granted independent legal status rather than dependents of their spouses or male family members. The attention paid to integration is important, but the suggestion of mandatory courses disregards other formats such as volunteering and other regular activities alongside neighbours in the community. Research shows that non-formal and informal learning environments are best-placed to foster inclusion. We also need to take account of family links and the need for mutual support and possibilities for integration rather than arbitrary distribution across the Member States which implies that newcomers are a burden. We oppose the emphasis placed on Centres for unaccompanied Minors. Children should be cared for in family settings, not institutional ones. We echo the need for better information and education around migration issues.
In conclusion, migration policies should aim at organising migration flows rather than restricting them. Ongoing policy development should involve meaningful participation and consultation of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers as well as their representative organisations in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies affecting them.”
Migration | Gabriella Civico’s full intervention at the Migration Plenary debate.
CIVIL SOCIETY & TRADE UNIONS MEETING AT THE COFE PLENARY
In this Plenary, we also took the opportunity to invite all COFOE Plenary members and participants in Strasbourg to our Civil Society and Trade Unions Meeting– a collaborative effort between CSOCoFoE, European Movement International (EMI), and European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).
The meeting’s purpose was to present the key trade union and civil society priorities in relation to the issues under discussion in this Plenary (stronger economy, social justice, jobs, youth, education, culture, sport ; Digital Transformation; EU in the World; and Migration) and to have an exchange of views on the Conference’s ongoing discussions.
The event was fully moderated by Luca Visentini, Secretary General of the European Trade Union Confederation, Alexandrina Najmowicz, co-chair of the Civil Society Convention and Petros Fassoulas, Secretary General of European Movement International.
Overall, the Plenary was deemed a success by the CSOCoFoE delegates! We will hold a final event on the 21st and 22nd of March to present the finalized recommendation papers generated by our thematic clusters after a year of hard effort. In the end, we hope that our recommendations will be incorporated into the final outcome of the Conference on the Future of Europe!
For further information on our upcoming event, please click here.