The Civil Society Convention on the Future of Europe organised a highly-attended public event on 7th June to mark the institutional kick-off of the Conference on the Future of Europe and discuss with high level representatives of the Conference about the scope and modalities of civil society participation in the Conference.

Initiated and coordinated by Civil Society Europe, our Convention brings together 80 European civil society networks and platforms with constituencies all across Europe, uniting millions of citizens active in all areas of life, from education to culture, social inclusion, environment, health, governance and transparency. ECF Secretary General, Alexandrina Najmowicz, has been elected co-chair of the Convention, together with Milosh Ristovski, Secretary General of JEF Europe.

Having democracy, solidarity, equality and inclusiveness as our compass, the Convention is organised in 5 thematic clusters that are covering the themes that are discussed also along the CoFoE Process.

In her introductory statement (by video message), Vice-President Dubravka Suica affirmed that “civil society is a key partner to ensure that every voice is heard”. This was echoed by MEPs Daniel Freund, Helmut Scholz and Domenec Ruiz Devesa, who also stressed that civil society could play a key role ensuring that many citizens and civic actors all across Europe are enabled to participate and contribute to the online platform. They also support the role of organized civil society in providing expertise and knowledge within the process of citizens panels.

Alexandrina Najmowicz, who moderated this exchange, pointed that “our ability as civic actors, to rebuild trust in participation, trust in citizens’ power to have a say on the political choices – could remobilize many popular sectors that fell into the trap of reactionary forces or that are often silent, disappointed and frustrated. But, we can’t do it alone! Our relations and dialogue with the institutions is instrumental in mediating this trust.”

Sara Hall, representing the Portuguese EU Presidency at the discussion, announced that the Civil Society Convention will be allocated 5 seats in the CoFoE Plenary, that will meet 5 or 6 times all along the process and discuss input from the online platform and the citizens panel and make recommendations to the Conference Executive board on the final outcomes of this deliberative exercise.

Finally, Gaetane Ricard-Nihoul presented the CoFoE on line platform, www.futureu.europa.eu as the hub of the Conference on the Future of Europe, an opportunity to speak up, propose ideas, organise events.  By spring 2022, the Conference is expected to reach conclusions. The final report will be prepared by the Executive Board in consultation with the Plenary.

The Civil Society Convention is firmly committed to mobilise its wide and diverse constituencies to bring into the public debate a strong and shared agenda for addressing social, environmental and democratic challenges facing our continent (and the whole world) today. It will also contribute to the Conference Plenary and scrutinise the implementation processes that will be needed to follow-up.