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European Parliament votes to include citizens in European Union reform process

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European Parliament votes to include citizens in European Union reform process


On January 15, the European Parliament agreed on its position of a participatory, citizens-inclusive Conference on the Future of Europe’s (CoFoE) to pave the way for EU treaty change. The resolution was very comprehensive and included objective, scope, organisation, composition, governance, communication, and output. The CoFoE was proposed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen as a means to invigorate citizens’ interest in Europe’s democratic future and as an effort to give new impulse to European institutional and democratic reform. Democracy International welcomes the promising initiative to energize and integrate citizens from the beginning phase and considers the CoFoE as the first stage in a democratic roadmap to European Union reform. 

With an overwhelming majority of 72%, the European Parliament adopted a resolution to launch the CoFoE process beginning 9 May 2020, Europe Day, and operate for two years. 


The resolution recognizes the need to include citizens in the debate on the future of Europe and suggests procedural opinions such as:

  • the involvement of randomly-chosen citizens’ agoras across EU Member States on thematic issues
  • Conference Plenary and Steering Committee composed of representatives from EU institutions
  • preparatory phases and support inputs with civil society
  • committing itself to a genuine follow-up to the recommendations of the Conference with legislative proposal or initiating treaty change 


Democracy International would strongly encourage:

  • that the citizens’ agora are asked to endorse the concrete recommendation produced by the Conference Plenary on the basis of their own thematic debates 
  • that “citizens’ direct participation” becomes a point on the agenda of policy priorities 
  • that the citizens’ agora choose which NGOs that should act as advisors in the preparatory and support phases 
  • that online submissions from citizens and civil society across the EU are also accepted ahead of the CoFoE
  • should a Convention process of treaty change begin, that the EU institutions and the Member States commit themselves to an EU-wide referendum in every EU Member State on the outcome of the Convention (i.e. the new European treaty)

A European Convention according to Article 48 of the Lisbon Treaty is the only legal way to achieve any revision of the European Treaties. Democracy International adds that direct involvement of citizens is vital in order to make the Convention process participatory and transparent, ending with an EU wide referendum in each Member State on the final outcome, the proposed new treaty, of the Convention. In February, interinstitutional negotiations between the Parliament, the Council, and the Commission will commence in order to finalise the methodology and structure of the CoFoE. 


Text of the Resolution: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2020-0010_EN.pdf


For questions please contact:

Daniela Vancic


+49 221 66966531


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