Dear Members of the Executive Board,
The Conference on the Future of Europe (hereafter: the Conference) is at a crossroads: either it will turn into an ugly interinstitutional battle happening largely behind closed doors, feeding cynicism about EU and the oft-declared ‘Europe of citizens’, or it will fully embrace the potential of meaningful and publicly accountable engagement with Europe’s citizens and residents. In order to increase our chances of the Conference going down the second road, we call on you to ensure that the recommendations coming out of the European Citizens’ Panels are all seriously and publicly debated and responded to in writing by the Conference Plenary and its Working Groups.
While the process of European Citizens’ Panels designed and implemented for the purpose of the Conference is very far from perfect, and while their output is not and should not be the exclusive input for the work of the Conference Plenary, the way this output is dealt with will be a crucial indicator for the success of the Conference. If you invite 800 citizens from all across Europe to dedicate more than three weekends of their time to come up with recommendations for the future of the European Union, the least you owe them and the wider European public is a public debate followed by a clear, reasoned and detailed answer on each of their specific recommendations.
An important task of the Conference Plenary is to debate the recommendations coming out of the European Citizens’ Panels. However, in order to ensure that this debate is meaningful and accountable, connected to the outcomes of the Citizens’ Panels, it should be followed by the adoption of a resolution in which the Conference Plenary responds concretely and in detail to each of the recommendations. In the absence of such a document, many citizens are likely to feel misled, as they will not see how their recommendations had a serious chance of being heard and making a difference. Even if the Conference Plenary disagrees with certain recommendations, it is of crucial importance to communicate and justify such opposition explicitly, publicly and in writing.
The Working Groups are the appropriate place to debate recommendations in detail and to prepare the final position of the Conference Plenary on citizens’ recommendations. In order to fulfil this role, Working Groups should be given the adequate resources and working structures, and their meetings should be live-streamed.
Considering the powers the EU institutions invested in you as Executive Board, as defined by the Joint Declaration, we count on you to adjust the Conference’s Rules of Procedure and the Working Groups Terms of Reference to accommodate our urgent requests for meaningful, publicly accessible Working Group and Conference Plenary debate on, and clear, detailed and reasoned written responses to, the European Citizens’ Panel recommendations.
We are looking forward to hearing back from you.
List of civil society organisations co-signing this letter:
Allianz für WERTEorientierte Demokratie (AllWeDo)
Alpe Adria Green
Asociación Musulmana por los Derechos Humanos
Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN)
Bulgarian Center for Not-for-Profit Law
Citizens for Europe
Citizens Take Over Europe
Civil Society Development Foundation, Romania
Civil Society Europe
Culture Action Europe
ENAR – European Network Against Racism
Equinox Initiative for Racial Justice
ETUC – European Trade Union Confederation
Eumans – citizens for democracy and sustainability
Europe for Scotland
European Center for Not-for-profit Law Stichting (ECNL)
European Civic Forum
European Democracy Lab
European Environmental Bureau
European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless
European Movement Italy
European Network on Religion & Belief
Fix The Status Quo
Fórum dos Cidadãos
Friends of the European Republic
Greek Forum of Migrants
IGO – Interessenvertretung Gemeinnütziger Organisationen
INITIATIVE FOR DEVELOPMENT AND COOPERATION
Institute of Public Affairs
KISA – Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism
Ligue de l’enseignement
Mehr Demokratie e.V.
Music Theatre International
National Network for Civil Society Germany (BBE)
OGA Ireland – Open Government Association Ireland
Politics for Tomorrow / nextlearning e. V.
Pulse of Europe
Regional Roma Educational Youth Association – RROMA
Society for Sustainable Living/STUŽ
Stand Up for Europe
Take a Break from Brexit
The ECI Campaign
The Good Lobby
Unconditional Basic Income Europe
This letter is sent to Executive Board members on Thursday, 20 January 2022, with a total of 58 co-signatories. If your organisation still wants to support this letter and remain updated, including about possible future actions, please fill out this form.
Footnotes: In this context, we want to mention and recognise the work done by the Civil Society Convention on the Future of Europe in bringing civil society actors together and developing common proposals for the Conference Plenary to debate and consider.  We note that our call for written replies to recommendations from the European Citizens’ Panels does not preclude the Conference Plenary additionally developing written responses to recommendations from National Citizens’ Panels, from the Civil Society Convention on the Future of Europe and/or from other sources, as collected on the Digital Platform.  See articles 5 and 17 of the Rules of Procedure of the Conference on the Future of Europe.  Up until now, only one Working Group meeting was ever live-streamed, the ‘EU in the world’ Working Group meeting taking place on 17 December at 11:00 CET (find the recording here).