Newsletter N°26 - April 2022
When one (Conference) door closes, another (Convention) door opens
The big European democracy experiment is coming to a close. The Conference on the Future of Europe has been monitored closely and critically over the past year. It has allowed citizens deliberation in Europe to take a new angle with the inclusion of the innovative European Citizens’ Panels (read: citizens’ assemblies).
The “Kyiv Moment”, as dubbed by the members of the Conference Plenary, has changed how we look at Europe. The Conference however does not have any binding powers. It is up to the EU institutions to decide in their own sphere of competences how it will proceed with the Conference outcomes.
But this Conference cannot be end of our talks on the Future of Europe. For years, civil society, especially Democracy International, has been calling for the start of a new European Constitutional Convention with a citizens’ focus to rewrite the European treaties and create a Europe that is fit for the challenges of the 21st century. And now, the once-taboo words of “treaty change” and “Convention” are being warmed up by politicians as well. Citizens of the Conference themselves are calling for a reopening of the discussion on a European Constitution. The ice age is over: we as Europeans are finally thawing the idea of a relaunching democracy in Europe.
As someone who has been following the Conference very closely together with my colleagues in Citizens Take Over Europe, I can safely say that never before in recent European history has there been such momentum for the start of a fundamental democratic change of the EU. The current crisis on the European border, including the ongoing energy crisis and the still-there pandemic reiterate the need for a rethinking about Europe, its democratic structures, and its role in the world.
Europe cannot sit this one out. It must make use of this critical momentum to create lasting change. And it must do that together with the citizens at the core, if Europe is to finally become a true Europe of the citizens. To pass up this moment will be a clear loss of a unique democratic opportunity.
To read more about the Conference and how a Convention could follow it, read the article here.
European Program Manager, Democracy International e.V.