Statement on President of the Conference on the Future of Europe

Statement on President of the Conference on the Future of Europe

photo by euroalter

We, members of the Citizens Take Over Europe coalition, recognize the importance of the position of President for the Conference on the Future of Europe and gravity of their role in what should be the most inclusive, citizens-centered, and meaningful conference Europe has seen. However, the current approach of appointing the President, behind closed doors and with an institutional deadlock, is destroying the credibility of the process and causing long delays. The manner in which the President is being appointed is indicative of the entire negotiating process of the Conference – intransparent, with no input from citizens or civil society, and limited and seldom communication to the public.

The selection of the President should be done, above all, in a transparent manner. In order to ensure the highest legitimacy of the individual holding the position:

  • The Conference itself should hold a democratic election and elect its own President among its plenary members, which could include Members of the European Parliament, national public officials, and members of civil society. This would allow for a public and transparent appointment procedure and could be a means out of the current deadlock.
  • The Conference should keep gender perspective in high consideration.

The role of the President is instrumental in ensuring the democratic and transparent functioning of the Conference. To this end, the responsibilities of the President of the Conference should be to: 

  • Be a catalyst for citizen involvement at all stages of the process, including designing the Conference and setting its agenda
  • Guarantee reliable and meaningful online and offline methods of deliberation, in consideration of the Covid-19 crisis
  • Ensure the formal and practical involvement of civil society 
  • Safeguard the balanced involvement of all parties as equals, including citizens
  • Oversee the publication of all Conference documents to ensure transparency at all stages
  • Ensure a communications campaign about the Conference is established through all EU institutions’ formal communication channels, in order to reach all corners of Europe
  • Promote the inclusion of democratic and participatory innovations in the design of the Conference, such as randomly selected citizens’ assemblies
  • Monitor that the Conference resolutions are followed up and implemented by legislative or non-legislative means, including treaty change, if deemed necessary

The success of the Conference on the Future of Europe will highly rely on the dedication and competence of the President in order to ensure a meaningful, transparent, and democratic Conference for its full duration. 

Join a Citizens Take Over Europe local group!

Join a Citizens Take Over Europe local group!

JOIN A CITIZENS TAKE OVer EUROPE LOCAL GROUP

Citizens Take Over Europe (CTOE) is a coalition of civil society organizations, citizens and residents from across Europe, joined in a common effort to promote a forward-looking and citizens-centered European democracy. For us in the coalition, this cannot work without citizens creating spaces of dialogue and deliberation to address problems Europeans are facing and to co-develop solutions.

For this, we need you to work with us towards that goal by creating a local group of CTOE in your city or neighbourhood. Here are some of the things you could do:

  • Organize events to activate citizens, associations of your city and your municipality to discuss and deliberate about Europe, being part of a network of transnational dialogue 
  • Start and experiment with your own citizen gatherings in your city or neighborhood on issues EU institutions should be tackling: from climate justice to health, from fighting against corruption to solidarity. 
  • Advocate with us for a transparent and inclusive Conference on the Future of Europe and tell our politicians that they can’t take decisions for us, without us

Interested? Then sign up online to the form and we will contact you to schedule a call in order to discuss together with you how to launch a local group.

Press Release: The citizens open letter to Angela Merkel and petition to the European Parliament

Press Release: The citizens open letter to Angela Merkel and petition to the European Parliament

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The citizens open letter to Angela Merkel and petition to the European Parliament

08 October 2020 – The Citizens Take Over Europe coalition (CTOE) is addressing the EU institutions for the Conference on the Future of Europe through an open letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel, Presidents of the European Parliament and of the Commission and an official Petition to the European Parliament to open a co-creation process for the Conference on the Future of Europe.

As stated in the letter, the EU is at a crossroads in its history: the need for the European Union to transform into a social, sustainable, inclusive and democratic, and citizen-led project is greater than ever before. Citizens and civil society organisations from across Europe, call on key political figures to make true the promise of the proposed Conference on the Future of Europe to guide the EU out of the many crises with which it is confronted.

Among the different requests which CTOE intend to present to EU institutions, the open letter and the petition demands: 

– To urgently commit to a timetable for the Conference on the Future of Europe, and engage civil society to co-design the Conference’s format

– To put citizens centre-stage at all phases of the Conference, firmly anchor civil society’s role in the Conference’s structure, and use randomly selected citizens’ assemblies to achieve representation of less-represented groups.

 – To pledge to follow-up to any significant reforms recommended by the Conference, including the possibility of treaty change.

As Daniela Vancic, from the CTOE coalition, explains: “the Conference on the Future of Europe is a rare opportunity that citizens have to sit at the decision-making table and co-create the Future of Europe that they want”.

More than 70 organisations, representing millions of citizens have already signed the pledge to decision-makers, calling for an inclusive process in both the designing of the Conference and in its implementation. 

Interinstitutional negotiations between the European Parliament, Commission and Council have already taken place, but behind closed doors, excluding citizens and leaving them completely in the dark. The CTOE coalition also submitted an official petition to the European Parliament calling for more transparency about the backdoor negotiations on the timeline and design of the Conference on the Future of Europe. The petition will prompt a response from the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament, where the members of the Committee will discuss the petition, with consideration of follow-up action.

The CTOE alliance is a continuously expanding group of civil society organisations formed in April 2020 with the objective of taking the lead in initiating a Citizens’ Conference on the Future of Europe to be organised with the support of citizens and civil society from all across Europe.

To get more information on CTOE and to participate in the coalition’s activities:

https://citizenstakeover.eu/

 

PRESS CONTACTS

Press Release: The citizens open letter to Angela Merkel and petition to the European Parliament

Our petition to the European Parliament

Our Petition to the European Parliament: For a transparent and participatory citizens-centered Conference on the Future of Europe

 

We are writing to you with the negotiations on the Conference on the Future of Europe currently underway. The Conference, announced by President Ursula von der Leyen prior to her appointment as Commission President, promised that Europeans will build the future of the Union and that citizens should play a leading role in setting the priorities and level of ambitions of the EU. 

The expectations of the Conference are high, as they must be for the Conference to address and meet the challenges facing the European project at this critical moment in time. However, the way in which the Conference is currently being prepared is highly problematic: the three EU institutions are meeting behind closed doors to agree on a joint declaration and citizens are left completely in the dark. There is no attempt at involving citizens in designing the Conference, and citizens are not in any structured way updated on what is proceeding in the negotiations, let alone are they given the opportunity to contribute and co-create. This is against the spirit of Article 1 of the Treaty on the European Union, which states that decisions should be “taken as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizen,” as well as against the spirit of Article 15(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which states: “In order to promote good governance and ensure the participation of civil society, the Union’s institutions, bodies, offices and agencies shall conduct their work as openly as possible.”

Therefore, we call on the European Parliament to update citizens immediately on the interinstitutional negotiations, and to do so regularly, and to ensure that the joint declaration shows the necessary room and mechanisms for citizens and civil society to further co-create the Conference in the spirit of ‘equal partnership’ promised by Ursula von der Leyen (see political guidelines for the European Commission 2019-2024). In order to achieve this, we call upon you to:

  • Organise a public consultation on how to design and organise the Conference as soon as the joint declaration is published;
  • Ensure that citizens will be involved in setting the agenda of the Conference
  • Facilitate the establishment of an independent EU Civil Society Forum to monitor the Conference and the follow-up process
  • Establish a special European Parliament Working Group on the Conference on the Future of Europe that engages in dialogue with citizens and the EU Civil Society Forum regularly throughout the duration of the Conference 
  • Ensure that the joint declaration contains a clear follow-up mechanism and commitment in order to guarantee that citizens’ inputs are adequately and promptly followed up, and that a process of treaty change is launched, if so recommended by the Conference.

You may wish to read for more details the 10 principles for a citizen-centered Conference on the Future of Europe for the full Conference guide prepared by the Citizens Take Over Europe coalition. 

The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light the fragilities of the European Union and made clear that a participatory and transparent Conference on the Future of Europe is needed more than ever. At the same time, the pandemic enabled a stronger cooperation between civil society and the European Parliament, where other Petitions had been brought to your attention on the topic of a democratic and transparent response to COVID-19 (329-2020). We call on you to demonstrate your democratic courage to support the design and implementation of the Conference that the EU and its citizens need.

Citizens Take Over Europe alliance

  1. AEGEE-Europe
  2. Alliance4Europe
  3. Another Europe is Possible
  4. CitizensLab
  5. CIVICO Europa
  6. Co-Creating Europe
  7. Democracy International e.V.
  8. EUmans
  9. European Alternatives
  10. European Civic Forum
  11. European Democracy Lab
  12. European House
  13. EuropeanConstitution.eu
  14. Europe, a patient
  15. Eurotopia
  16. Fórum dos Cidadãos
  17. Mehr Demokratie e.V.
  18. mehr demokratie! Österreich
  19. Music Theater International
  20. New Europeans
  21. Pulse of Europe
  22. Take a Break from Brexit
  23. The ECI Campaign
  24. The Good Lobby
  25. WeMove Europe

Supporting Partners

  1. ACI – Centro InterCulturaCidade
  2. AlterEuropa
  3. Association of Certified Commercial Diplomats
  4. Associazione Luca Coscioni per la libertà di ricercar scientifica
  5. Basisdemokratie jetzt
  6. Bridging Europe
  7. Bundesnetzwerk Bürgerschafliches Engagement (BBE)
  8. Christians for Future Berlin
  9. Christians for Future Germany
  10. Citizens for Europe
  11. CROSOL – Croatian Platform for International Citizen Solidarity
  12. CUBE. Your Take on Europe e.V.
  13. Cultural Diversity Coalition
  14. Culture Solutions Europe
  15. European Citizens’ Rights, Involvement and Trust Foundation (ECIT Foundation)
  16. eCivis, asociacion para la promocion de la ciudadania active
  17. EFF – European Future Forum
  18. Engage Liverpool
  19. Europa Repubblica 
  20. Europa-Union Hochtaunus e.V.
  21. Europa-Zentrum Potsdam
  22. Europe Direct Informationszentrum
  23. European Movement Italy
  24. European Partnership for Democracy
  25. EuroPeers Maastricht
  26. Foundation Open Society Macedonia
  27. Friends of the European Republic
  28. Friends of the Homeless, Dublin
  29. Fundació Aroa
  30. Imagine Europe
  31. Institute of Public Affairs Poland
  32. Italissyme
  33. LIMA-Theater
  34. Lodzkie Dziewuchy Dziewuchom
  35. Mediation Hub BG Association 
  36. Parents for Future Berlin
  37. PHILEUROPA Deutschland – Fileuropa Italia
  38. Pulse of Europe Berlin
  39. Pulse of Europe Fulda
  40. Pulse of Europe Munich
  41. Pulse of Europe Toulouse
  42. Science for Democracy 
  43. Sortition Foundation
  44. Stati Generali delle Donne
  45. Transition Town Saarbrücken
  46. Vote&Vous
  47. Voxeurop
  48. YMCA Albania
Open Letter to the EU institutions: Co-creating a citizens-centered Conference on the Future of Europe

Open Letter to the EU institutions: Co-creating a citizens-centered Conference on the Future of Europe

If you are a CSO, join our voice for a citizens-centred Conference on the Future of Europe:

Open Letter to the EU institutions: Co-creating a citizens-centered Conference on the Future of Europe

 

Dear Ms. Merkel,

Dear Mr. Sassoli, 

Dear Ms. von der Leyen,

We are writing to you at the outset of what we hope will be a historical semester of the European Union. The EU is at a crossroads in its history: the need for the European Union to transform into a social, sustainable, democratic, and citizen-led project is greater than ever before. This is why we, citizens and civil society organisations from across Europe, are calling on you to make true the promise of the proposed Conference on the Future of Europe to guide the EU out of the many crises with which it is confronted.

The Future of Europe is under decision right now: the “Next Generation EU” Recovery Fund will double the EU budget to alleviate the ongoing consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, and strengthen European solidarity towards a deeper political Union, potentially affecting every aspect of the EU’s action. The debate on the use of the biggest recovery fund in EU history cannot take place exclusively behind the closed doors of the Council. While we urge you to agree on a bold and ambitious economic response as soon as possible, we recognise that the relaunch of Europe cannot only be economic – it must also be democratic. Because of its historical importance, a civic debate on the use of funds and the long-term reforms needed should be integral to the basis on which to convene the Conference on the Future of Europe, and new mechanisms for citizens to participate in an ongoing way in the governance of the EU should be explored.

Accordingly, we call on you to:

– Urgently commit to a timetable for the Conference on the Future of Europe, and engage civil society to co-design an empowering format for the Conference from the bottom-up, through which citizens feel ownership.

– Ensure complete democratic legitimacy by putting citizens centre-stage in the discussions at all phases, make special efforts to involve minorities and youth, and firmly anchor civil society’s role in the Conference’s structure. Citizens must not only be consulted but also be participants, even through randomly selected Citizens’ Assemblies.

– Pledge to follow-up to any significant reforms recommended by the Conference, including the possibility of treaty change.

The need for transnational collaboration and supranational action is greater than ever before. The EU is facing multi-faceted unprecedented challenges: COVID-19 and its socio-economic implications, the climate crisis, Brexit and global geopolitical instability. These challenges can only be overcome if citizens are given a role in addressing them. The Conference on the Future of Europe offers the best opportunity to develop this shared ownership among citizens, civil society, Member States, and EU institutions. But it needs to be designed, implemented, executed, and followed-up properly in order to achieve the intended effect.

If the Conference on the Future of Europe turns into a public relations exercise rather than a real and substantial attempt to bring in citizens’ closer to the EU, the Conference will feed the narrative of the EU’s democratic deficit. To prevent this, the Conference must be carefully designed, ensuring an open, transparent, inclusive, and participatory process, including a clear role for civil society, and there must be a strong commitment for meaningful implementation of its outcome.

If the Conference has the necessary democratic character, we, as European civil society organisations, stand ready to make a constructive contribution to it, and to mobilise citizens across Europe to do the same.

We count on you to make this new era of European participation one of new beginnings.

Thank you for taking important steps to make the democratic future of Europe a priority.

Democratically yours,

The Citizens Take Over Europe alliance and supporting partners

*Please click here to read our 10 principles for a citizens-centered Conference on the future of Europe

If you are a CSO, join our voice for a citizens-centred Conference on the Future of Europe:

Citizens Take Over Europe alliance

  1. Alliance4Europe
  2. Another Europe is Possible
  3. CitizensLab
  4. CIVICO Europa
  5. Co-Creating Europe
  6. Democracy International e.V.
  7. EUmans
  8. European Alternatives
  9. European Civic Forum
  10. European Democracy Lab
  11. European House
  12. EuropeanConstitution.eu
  13. Eurotopia
  14. Mehr Demokratie e.V.
  15. mehr demokratie! Österreich
  16. Music Theater International
  17. New Europeans
  18. Pulse of Europe
  19. Take a Break from Brexit
  20. The ECI Campaign
  21. The Good Lobby
  22. WeMove Europe

Supporting Partners

  1. ACI – Centro InterCulturaCidade
  2. AlterEuropa
  3. Association of Certified Commercial Diplomats
  4. Associazione Luca Coscioni per la libertà di ricercar scientifica
  5. Basisdemokratie jetzt
  6. Bridging Europe
  7. Bundesnetzwerk Bürgerschafliches Engagement (BBE)
  8. Christians for Future Berlin
  9. Christians for Future Germany
  10. Citizens for Europe
  11. CROSOL – Croatian Platform for International Citizen Solidarity
  12. CUBE. Your Take on Europe e.V.
  13. Cultural Diversity Coalition
  14. Culture Solutions Europe
  15. European Citizens’ Rights, Involvement and Trust Foundation (ECIT Foundation)
  16. eCivis, asociacion para la promocion de la ciudadania active
  17. EFF – European Future Forum
  18. Engage Liverpool
  19. Europa Repubblica 
  20. Europa-Union Hochtaunus e.V.
  21. Europa-Zentrum Potsdam
  22. Europe Direct Informationszentrum
  23. European Movement Italy
  24. European Partnership for Democracy
  25. EuroPeers Maastricht
  26. Foundation Open Society Macedonia
  27. Friends of the European Republic
  28. Friends of the Homeless, Dublin
  29. Fundació Aroa
  30. Imagine Europe
  31. Institute of Public Affairs Poland
  32. Italissyme
  33. LIMA-Theater
  34. Lodzkie Dziewuchy Dziewuchom
  35. Mediation Hub BG Association 
  36. Music Theatre International 
  37. Parents for Future Berlin
  38. PHILEUROPA Deutschland – Fileuropa Italia
  39. Pulse of Europe
  40. Pulse of Europe Berlin
  41. Pulse of Europe Fulda
  42. Pulse of Europe Munich
  43. Pulse of Europe Toulouse
  44. Science for Democracy 
  45. Sortition Foundation
  46. Stati Generali delle Donne
  47. Transition Town Saarbrücken
  48. Vote&Vous
  49. Voxeurop
  50. YMCA Albania