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Upgrading citizens participation must be at the centre of State of the Union

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Upgrading citizens participation must be at the centre of State of the Union


On 9 May 2022, the year-long Conference on the Future of Europe concluded and published its work. While the final report of the Conference provides an ambitious programme for Europe, the follow-up remains to be seen and implemented. 


With its resolution on 9 June 2022 [1], the European Parliament triggered Article 48 of the Lisbon Treaty for the first time in history and formally called for a new European Convention for a revision of the Treaties. The European Council must now decide by simple majority whether or not to convene a Convention, which will be expected at the next European Council meeting 20-21 October. The European Commission however has not yet taken a formal position on the European Parliament’s formal request, despite Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposing on several occasions to consider treaty change “if need be”, including at the final event of the Conference on 9 May [2].

On 14 September 2022, President von der Leyen will deliver her third State of the Union speech. As a pioneer of the Conference on the Future of Europe, our minimum expectation is that the Commission’s programme for follow-up to the Conference will be key to President von der Leyen’s announcements for the future of Europe. 

Given that “re-opening the discussion on a European Constitution” was recommended in European Citizens’ Panel 2 (recommendation 35) and was a proposal in the final Conference report (proposal 39.7), we expect that the Commission will follow the will of the citizens, as the European Parliament did, in positioning itself clearly and favorably in favor of a new European Convention to deal with the multiple Conference recommendations that require Treaty change.  

We also expect that in her State of the Union speech, the President:

  • will provide a clear roadmap on how the Commission will follow up on individual Conference proposals in the short, mid, and long term

  • will provide further details regarding the President’s promise of giving European Citizens’ Panels “time and resources” to make recommendations ahead of key legislative proposals [3]

  • will provide details on the Conference citizens’ feedback event to take place on 2 December 2022, including how it will be able to hold the institutions accountable for follow up

  • will clarify the future of the multilingual Digital Platform, ensuring it becomes a durable place for meaningful citizen engagement and new ideas for Europe.

The Conference on the Future of Europe cannot become another empty promise where decision-makers do not commit to how they will take citizens’ input into consideration. Europe faces existential threats if it alienates citizens even further: the future of liberal democracy requires an upgrading of citizen participation. The State of the Union provides an opportunity for the European Union to reset and reestablish its dedication to its citizens and to European democracy. 





CC-BY-4.0: © European Union 2019 – Source: EP

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