Inauguration of the Conference on the Future of Europe
Yesterday, on Europe Day, the European Parliament hosted the inaugural event of the Conference on the Future of Europe in Strasbourg, launching the participatory process set up collectively by the Parliament, the Council and the Commission.
The Presidents of the EU institutions gave speeches on their vision for Europe, following a welcome speech by President Macron, while the Co-Chairs of the Executive Board answered questions posed by citizens from across the EU Member States. Macron used the ceremony to defend Strasbourg as the Parliament’s formal seat, and to discuss sovereignty and Europe’s place among Russia, China and the United States.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urged that the conference focus on real-life concerns and that participants remain open-minded, and welcoming of all views. Parliament President David Sassoli seized the chance to make an institutional power-play, and used his speech to urge that the Conference on the Future of Europe consider granting MEPs their long-sought right of legislative initiative, a power now wielded only by the Commission. Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, said that amid the terrible health and economic consequences of the pandemic, the start of the conference should be viewed as a sign of the EU’s strength.
Erasmus students from across the EU, together with members of the Conference's Executive Board were physically present, fully respecting the applicable sanitary rules, and over 500 citizens attended the event remotely. Ministers for European affairs, Members of the European Parliament and national Parliaments, and other VIP guests also joined remotely.
The Executive Board will soon set the date for the first Conference Plenary meeting. Preparations for the Citizens' Panels are underway, while the number of participants and events on the Conference's Multilingual Digital Platform continue to grow. The Conference is committed to giving maximum space to young people and in this vein, preparations for the European Youth Event organised by the European Parliament in October also continue.
Image © European Parliament, 2021