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

 

Dear Ms. Merkel,

We are writing to you at the outset of what we hope will be a historical semester as President of the Council 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 the Germany Presidency one of new beginnings.

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

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

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