Civil Society Europe welcomes the adoption by the European Parliament of its position on the Conference on the future of Europe. We appreciate particularly the ambition to address the challenges that the European Union is facing and the need to undergo ambitious reforms through a robust debate, which will tackle among others: European values, fundamental rights and freedoms, democracy and governance, the environment, social justice and equality. We also welcome the willingness to develop an open, transparent, inclusive and participatory process with the involvement of citizens and organised civil society through a bottom up approach, namely the establishment of a citizen and a youth agora.
We regret however that in the resolution the participation of civil society as the representative organisations of citizens has been sidelined to the preparatory and agora debates and not included in the main Conference plenary next to the social partners and the EU institutions and EU bodies. In order to make the participation of citizens and also of all the people that live in the EU meaningful, European civil society organisations must be closely involved in all the stages of the process, including in the Conference Plenary.
Civil Society organisations are on the forefront in developing responses to societal challenges as well as in keeping governments and institutions accountable. The right to participate in the democratic life of the Union’ of representative associations and civil society is enshrined in article 11, 1-2 of the Treaty on the European Union. A Conference discussing the future of Europe must be compliant with these rules. Citizens from across Europe with their representative organisations had mobilised before the vote to remind the members of the European Parliament that participation and involvement must be real and effective and that civil society and citizens must be taken seriously. Not filling this gap by ensuring a real engagement may be counterproductive and contribute to increasing people’s distrust towards the European Union.
We call on the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the EU to meet this key prerequisite in ensuring the participation of European civil society in the Conference Plenary in their final discussions between now and February.