With the fifth plenary debate, the Conference on the Future of Europe is entering its final and decisive phase. In view of the war in Ukraine, the participants discussed concrete issues of EU enlargement and the role of the EU in the world.
Citizens recommend the development of a common vision and European identity as the basis for joint EU external action. However, the current situation makes it clear that security aspects must be taken into account as a prerequisite for democracy and freedom in Europe. To this end, the focus would also have to be on enlargement policy as a geostrategic stability factor, for example through closer links to the Western Balkans. At the same time, a serious prospect of accession should not undermine European principles of the rule of law and democracy.
The debate also highlighted the structural weaknesses of the Conference on the Future of Europe. On the one hand, it is a large-scale attempt to promote elements of participatory democracy, and thus citizen engagement and trust in EU politics. However, the question arises as to how citizen participation can succeed in a short time and complex political details, so that it leads to realistic, European policy solutions. The success of the Conference on the Future of Europe will depend on whether visible results and a plan for the implementation phase can be presented by its official end on 9 May 2022.
In the discussion, Dr. Mark Speich, State Secretary for Federal and European Affairs and International Affairs, reported from the Plenary Assembly and the working group "EU in the World". Dr. Funda Tekin, director of the Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP) shared an academic perspective on the citizens recommendations and Rebecca Harms, former chairperson of the Greens/EFA Group of the European Parliament commented with her longstanding experience as Member of the European Parliament.
The online event was organized by the Representation of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia to the Federal Government in cooperation with the IEP. The IEP is supported for ist activities by the Federal Foreign Office and receives funding from the „Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values" (CERV) programme of the European Union.