The closing event of the Conference on the Future of Europe, on 9 May, was preceded by the Strasbourg Summit. The latter took place from 5 to 8 May and was organised by civil society organisations, including JEF Europe. Among the highlights of the Summit was the European Civil Society Assembly held on 7 May and which saw a number of participants from the Civil Society Convention for the CoFoE (CSOCoFoE). Through several roundtable discussions, the European Civil Society Assembly sought to gather all the driving forces from the civil society sector (including associations, trade unions, NGOs and foundations) and discuss and plan the next steps following the CoFoE.
The first roundtable discussion focused on civil society’s takeaways from the CoFoE. Two members of the CSOCoFoE were among the panellists: Antonella Valmorbida, Secretary General of ALDA and leader of the CSOCoFoE’s thematic cluster dedicated to European democracy, and Piotr Sadowski, President of the Social Platform and co-leader of the CSOCoFoE’s thematic cluster dedicated to ‘Our European Life’. They both spoke about the importance of local democracy, civil dialogue and accountability. The other panellists were: Anna Echterhoff, Secretary General of UEF (Union of European Federalists); Seamus Boland, EESC Diversity Europe President; and Chloé Bourguignon, ETUC Youth Bureau Member.
The second roundtable discussion focused on the next steps following the CoFoE and how civil society organisations can engage in the follow-up process. Three members of the CSOCoFoE were among the panellists: Alexandrina Najmowicz, Secretary General of the European Civic Forum and co-chair of the CSOCoFoE, Patrizia Heidegger, Director for Global Policies and Sustainability at the European Environmental Bureau and leader of the CSOCoFoE’s thematic cluster dedicated to fighting climate change and environmental challenges, and Antonio Argenziano, President of JEF Europe. One of the top priorities that emerged from this discussion was ambitious action to end all inequalities and climate change. The other panellists were: Professor Frédérique Berrod (University of Strasbourg, and College of Europe) and Catriona Mair, ECIT Foundation’s Head of Advocacy.
During lunch, Citizens Take Over Europe led a debate about the role of citizens for the future of Europe. Then, Milosh Ristovski, Secretary General of JEF Europe and co-chair of the CSOCoFoE, presented the Strasbourg Summit’s Joint Declaration which was adopted on the same day with civil society members and MEPs. He also led a roundtable discussion with three MEPs. The day ended with a two-hours-long March for Europe, which departed from Place Kléber and ended in front of the European Parliament. The march’s overarching goal was to encourage and push European leaders to put their words into action and to show citizens’ support for the EU, especially for a stronger and better Union. In total, several hundreds of people, including young citizens and civil society organisations such as Civil Society Europe, participated in the March for Europe.
On 9 May, Europe Day, CSOCoFoE delegates (pictured above) attended the closing event of the CoFoE at the European Parliament. The event included dance and music performances by young people, as well as speeches by the three co-chairs of the Executive Board of the CoFoE, citizens of the European and National Citizens’ Panels, EP President Roberta Metsola, EC President Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron.