Ten recommendations on the future of Europe

Europaparlament / Brigitte Hase

The Federal Foreign Office of Germany organised a randomly selected National Citizens’ Panel on 15 and 16 January 2022. The Panel was an opportunity for citizens to actively contribute their own ideas on the future of Europe. How can the EU safeguard its common democratic values and strengthen the rule of law? How can it succeed in the transition to a sustainable and digitalised economy and society? What role should the EU play in the world?

The aim of the National Citizens’ Panel was to develop collaborative recommendations for action and thus make a tangible contribution to the ongoing Conference on the Future of Europe. The participants of the panel agreed on ten recommendations. These include the proposal that the EU initiates an investment package on climate-friendly technologies and innovations with a support programme. The package is to be financed by climate import duties, which are to be earmarked and counter-financed as the monetary equivalent of the climate damage and passed on. To this end, a sustainability point system is to be introduced for certain products.

Campaign for sustainable consumption

The Citizens' Panel also recommends an EU campaign for sustainable consumption and lifestyles. The campaign should be run by a European body with branches in the EU countries, which should be equipped with its own resources for this purpose. This should give all people in the EU a common identity and awareness of sustainable consumption and lifestyle.

For companies relocating and/or setting up production in the EU, approval procedures are to be accelerated and standardised, bureaucracy reduced and subsidies offered to enable the production of basic goods in the EU. The EU should massively promote renewable energies in order to reduce energy costs. This should shorten supply chains and make them more climate-friendly, strengthen the EU and create jobs where human rights are respected.

The Citizens' Panel further proposes that the EU Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights submits a proposal to the European Parliament for the introduction of an occupational group-specific basic wage in all member states. This basic wage should consist of a minimum living wage and an occupational group-specific supplement.

Point system for digitalisation

For a strong overall digital economy, the Citizens' Panel recommends a publicly visible point system, called Digi-Score. This scoring system is intended to display the current level of digitisation of companies and make it comparable. The publication is intended to create more incentives for digitisation. Companies with a low Digi-Score are to be provided with targeted subsidies so that they can catch up with other companies.

European values should be more tangible and communicated emotionally. To this end, the Citizens' Panel recommends an "onboarding" package, media, interactive elements and more involvement of citizens. The EU should set up its own educational and informational television programme to raise awareness of our common values among all EU citizens. Everyone living in the EU should know about the common values and be able to identify with them.

For the exchange of pupils in the EU, the Citizens' Panel would like to see, in addition to the already existing ERASMUS programme, a regulation on an exchange programme for pupils aged 14 - 25, regardless of origin, gender and level of education. This should give all pupils the opportunity to exchange throughout Europe, regardless of their level of education and the funding provided by their parents.

Conference on the Future of Europe

The Conference on the Future of Europe is an initiative by the European Union. Its aim is to enter into an in-depth dialogue with the people of Europe on the future direction of the EU. All of the ideas that are presented by individuals or emerge during the various national and European dialogues will be compiled on a central digital platform.

The specific recommendations developed by the National Citizens’ Panels (in Germany as well as France, Belgium and other countries) and by European Citizens’ Panels were collected on this platform. All of the proposals were discussed at a Plenary meeting with representatives from civil society, national parliaments, member states and EU institutions as well as members of the public. The German Government was represented by Michael Roth, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, and Claudia Dörr-Voß, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs.

100 randomly selected members

A total of 100 randomly selected members of the public were invited to take part in the National Citizens’ Panel. It begun on 8 January 2022 with four online discussions each attended by 25 participants. On 15 and 16 January 2022, all one hundred of them attended a two-day online conference.

The recommendations of the Citizens' Panel were handed over in a virtual closing plenary on 16 January 2022 in the presence of Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Minister of State for Europe and Climate Anna Lührmann. The results of the Citizens' Panel were presented on 21/22 January 2022 by Stephanie Hartung from 'Pulse of Europe', national citizens' representative at the Conference on the Future of Europe, in the large plenary and discussed with the total of 433 representatives from all 27 EU Member States.

What happens to the results?

Between 7 and 9 April 2022, the sixth meeting of the plenary of the Conference on the Future of Europe was held in the European Parliament in Strasbourg to discuss the reports of the nine thematic working groups, which presented them on 8 and 9 April to the plenary. Reports of each working group take account of most of the 178 recommendations made by the European Citizens’ Panels, some made by national citizens’ panels and a few made through the digital platform.

Each report consists of about five pages and up to seven objectives (or proposals) and between 16 (“migration”) and 61 (“employment, social justice and jobs”) measures, together about 350 measures. According to articles 17 and 18 of the Joint Declaration of the Conference, a draft final report was presented for debate and approved on 29/30 April 2022 during the final plenary session.

Final report

In the light of that debate, the Executive Board drew up its final report to the presidents of the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission, who met with the 800 members of the European Citizens’ Panels and the members of the plenary on 9 May 2022 in Strasbourg.

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