Europe Day: Let’s talk about the future of the European Union!

Europe Day marks the anniversary of the ‘Schuman declaration’, a foundational speech for the European integration process delivered by Robert Schuman in the year 1950. But let’s not harken back to what happened 71 years ago. By launching the Conference on the Future of Europe, the EU is making it clear that it wants to look ahead. 

The Conference on the Future of Europe is a unique opportunity to strengthen the European Union and assess how its institutions can better respond to citizen demands. Our Members are committed and willing to contribute to this process. 

Last September, we organised the Policy Lab’ Spain and the European Union – Political leadership for the future of Europe’ a discussion among Members, academia, government representatives and civil society to address the Union’s role as a global actor in an increasingly polarised world. 

Here are some of the main takeaways: 

The recovery process from the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to strengthen the European Union and citizens’ trust in European institutions.

The EU’s response to COVID-19-and that of its Member States- has served as a reminder that unity, needs-based policymaking, and strategic communication are crucial for citizen’s to maintain their trust in their institutions.  

The unprecedented agreement on a recovery plan based on joint debt issuing demonstrates that the EU has lived up to the economic threat posed by the pandemic. Both the agreement on the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework and the Next GenerationEU recovery package have given hope to Europe’s citizens. 

The crisis has shown the full-scale of what Members states can achieve working together. It makes the most sense for Member States to advocate for a strong and united European Union.

The Conference on the Future of Europe can play an important role in building a stronger European Union.  

Wishing to contribute to a strong European Union, we welcome the Conference on the Future of Europe, a unique opportunity to open a profound debate in which citizens can share their hopes and experiences with the EU institutions.  

The EU should guarantee that conversations are inclusive and transparent. All citizens must have accessible mechanisms to participate, especially the younger generations. The final outcome should reflect these contributions and respond to citizen’s needs. 

The Conference on the Future of Europe and the foresight efforts of the European Commission are key opportunities to reinforce a basic and shared consensus on European values. 

Inclusion, tolerance, justice, solidarity and non-discriminations are all integral to the European way of life and are values that define the role of the European Union in the world. They are the bedrock of today’s European Union and must continue to guide its future development. 

Democracy and the rule of law are enshrined in Article 2 of the European treaties. European institutions and Member States must ensure their full respect and even strengthen political and institutional mechanisms that promote respect for European values.

The Future of Europe must be green and digital. 

The climate crisis is an existential threat to Europe and the world. The EU and its Member States can and should lead by example.

Urgent measures need to be taken to make climate protection and sustainable development the foundations of a prosperous and safe future for Europeans. The European Green Deal is a promising piece of legislation and Member States must work to secure an appropriate level of funding. Beyond the deal, States and EU institutions must continue to invest in environmentally-friendly technologies; promote green innovation; advance in the decarbonisation of the energy sector; and contribute to global environmental standards. 

Europe must aspire to lead the accelerated exponential technological disruption and adapt its economy and regulations to a new digital paradigm. For all remarkable efforts made by the EU to lead the global normative agenda on digitalisation, we believe that this normative power is diluted if Europe does not become a global tech powerhouse. 

The Future of Europe should leave no one behind. 

We live in an era of rapid, sweeping change. The profound transformations ahead of us can challenge the lives of a fair number of European citizens, who might struggle to adapt to the new paradigms. We cannot create winners and losers. To leave no one behind, Europe will need a new social contract. 

The European Union must place social justice and equity at the core of its action. Priorities such as digitalisation, financial stability, or the Green Deal will only work if they are developed under these principles. In that regard, European institutions and Member States should not spare any effort to support those most affected by the move towards a green and digital economy.  

Work is also undergoing profound transformations. Governments and the private sector must work more closely to reach regulatory agreements that guarantee the principles of equity and social justice in the new jobs that are to come. Europe has a lot of potential for innovation. To develop fully, the continuous feedback between universities and the demands of the private sector is crucial.

Our contribution to the Conference on the Future of Europe

To contribute to the success of the Conference on the Future of Europe, Club de Madrid will organize a series of debates along 2021 in cooperation with European Member States, youth organisations and think tanks. 

We will build bridges between policy making institutions and the civil society, and act as sounding boards to make the voice of our younger generations fully heard.