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Conference on the Future of Europe to convene


Conference on the Future of Europe to convene

A general view shows the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker addressing the European Parliament during a debate on The State of the European Union in Strasbourg
Photo: Reuters/Christian Hartmann

The EU’s Conference on the Future of Europe will begin today in Strasbourg.

The conference offers citizens from across the Union the opportunity to discuss issues, including health, climate change, the economy and social fairness, and present their findings for consideration by the European Parliament.

Despite the conference’s popularity with EU leaders, critics label it a bureaucratic exercise that will ultimately accomplish little. Additional criticism that the representatives attending the conference will not accurately represent the needs of average EU citizens has prompted further urging to listen to local voices.

Expect the conference’s reception among individual member-states to be decidedly chilly. This opposition will likely frustrate any proposals made regarding changing treaty obligations, with member-states instead stressing the importance of addressing issues directly. According to a recent memo, the government of Ireland has pledged to resist any move to change EU treaties because of decisions made during the conference. The move followed their co-signing of a letter—with eleven other member states—saying the reform process should not force new legal obligations. Despite this opposition, however, the conference’s popularity in the European Council means it is unlikely to be canceled or abolished altogether.

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