Update on the Conference on the Future of Europe – agreement on the Joint Declaration

Update on the Conference on the Future of Europe – agreement on the Joint Declaration

Az Európai Parlament, az Európai Bizottság és a Tanács kiadott egy közös nyilatkozatot az Európa jövőjéről tartandó konferencia megrendezéséről. Megkezdődött a Conference on the Future of Europe előkészítése.

Brussels, 8 March 2021

  • To the members of the Steering Committee
  • To the members and deputy members of the Executive Committee

Dear colleagues,

In view of the discussion on the Conference on the Future of Europe in the Extraordinary Enlarged Virtual Steering Committee meeting tomorrow, we wanted to provide you with a short update on the Conference.

The European Parliament, Commission and Council reached last week an agreement on the  Joint Declaration (Joint Declaration on the Conference on the Future of Europe. Engaging with citizens for democracy – building a more resilient Europe). Please find attached the text of the Declaration. On Wednesday (10 March) at 13.00, EP President David Sassoli, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Prime Minister of Portugal, António Costa, will sign the Joint Declaration. The signature of the Declaration will allow the institutions to start the organisation of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Please find here a short overview of the main elements of the Joint Declaration:

Topics. The document stresses the fact that the Conference should focus amongst others on social issues. It mentions the need to strengthen Europe's social contract, to address inequalities and to ensure that "the European Union is a fair, sustainable, innovative and competitive economy that leaves no one behind". Discussions will cover – amongst others – "building a healthy continent, the fight against climate change and environmental challenges, an economy that works for people, social fairness, equality and intergenerational solidarity, Europe's digital transformation, European rights and values including the Rule of Law, migration challenges, security, the EU's role in the world, the Union's democratic foundations, and how to strengthen democratic processes governing the European Union. Discussions can also cover cross-cutting issues related to the EU's ability to deliver on policy priorities, such as better regulation, application of subsidiarity and proportionality, implementation and enforcement of the acquis and transparency". It will be possible to add further issues to the agenda of the Conference.

Role of Social Partners. The Joint Declaration recognises the important role social partners should play in the Conference (inter alia "we will organise events in partnership with civil society and stakeholders at European, national, regional and local level, with national and regional Parliaments, the Committee of the Regions, the Economic and Social Committee, social partners and academia. Their involvement will ensure that the Conference goes far beyond Europe's capital cities and reaches every corner of the Union").

The Joint Declaration foresees the participation of social partners' representatives in the Plenary and the possibility for social partners to be invited in the Executive Board as observers.

The Declaration also recognises the role the European Economic and Social Committee should play in the Conference.

Events and digital platform. On the basis of the Joint Declaration, the Conference will include a "multitude of events and debates", as well as an interactive multilingual digital platform. The events "will involve civil society and stakeholders".

At the European level, the European institutions commit to organise European citizens' panels. Each Member State and institution can organise additional events.

National and European events in the framework of the Conference will be organised along a set of principles and minimum criteria reflecting EU values. All organisers of events will have to subscribe to a Conference Charter.

According to the Joint Declaration, the inputs from the different initiatives will be collected and published throughout the Conference via the digital platform. The ideas expressed during the Conference events should result in concrete recommendations for EU action through a feedback mechanism.

Governance. The conflict between the institutions on the governance of the Conference has been solved as follows:

  • The Presidents of the European Parliament, of the Council and of the European Commission will act as Joint Presidency of the Conference;
  • An Executive Board will be set up and will be composed of representatives from the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission (three representatives and up to four observers from each institution). The Executive Board will take decisions by consensus on the works of the Conference, its processes and events, including the preparation of the meetings of the Plenary. According to the Declaration, "the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee, may also be invited as observers, as well as representatives of other EU bodies and social partners where appropriate";
  • A Common Secretariat of limited size will assist the work of the Executive Board;
  • A Conference Plenary will debate the recommendations from the national and European citizens' panels "without a predetermined outcome and without limiting the scope to pre-defined policy areas". The Plenary will meet at least every six months. It will be composed "of representatives from the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission, as well as representatives from all national Parliaments, on an equal footing and citizens. The Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee, the social partners, and civil society will also be represented". It will be up to the Executive Board to draw and publish the conclusions of the Plenary.

Conclusions and final outcome. The Joint Declaration stresses that the Conference should reach conclusions by Spring 2022. This still leaves the possibility open for the Conference to continue after that date and to provide further conclusions / recommendations. According to the Declaration, "the final outcome of the Conference will be presented in a report to the Joint Presidency. The three institutions will examine swiftly how to follow up effectively to this report, each within their own sphere of competences and in accordance with the Treaties".

The Joint Declaration defines the main elements according to which the Conference will be organised. It constitutes a good basis, but it still leaves much of the decisions on the concrete functioning of the Conference to the work of the Executive Board. It will be therefore necessary to continue to engage with the European institutions in view of the start of the Conference. At the same time, the agreement on the Joint Declaration makes it even more necessary and urgent for the European trade union movement to define its priorities and approach and organise its mobilisation for the Conference on the Future of Europe.

I look forward to our discussion tomorrow.

Best regards,

Luca Visentini,

General Secretary

Joint Declaration.pdf



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