The first of the four European citizens’ panels met in Strasbourg on 17-19 September to discuss the economy, education, culture and the digital revolution.
A total of 200 people came to the European Parliament in Strasbourg for the start of a process that will allow them to formulate recommendations for EU policies in the Conference on the Future of Europe.
The panel members, selected randomly to represent the diversity of the EU, looked at a broad range of topics including the economy, jobs, social justice, education, culture, young people, sports and the digital transformation.
In his welcoming remarks, MEP Guy Verhofstadt, co-chair of the Conference's executive board, underlined the historic nature of the event: “It is the first time that European politics will be developed not for the citizens, but by the citizens. Never before has this kind of democratic experience been organised at transnational, pan-European, level”.
Meetings alternated between deliberations in small groups and discussions with all members sitting in Parliament’s plenary chamber. Experts in the different fields shared their views on key developments and challenges.
During its first three-day session of three, the panel established five themes that will be considered in more depth in the following meetings:
Working in Europe
Economy for the future
A just society
Learning in Europe
Ethical and safe digital transformation
Each theme was divided into sub-topics. During the next sessions, panel members will be split into groups to work on the sub-topics, as well as hold broader discussions with all panel members.
The panel also selected 20 representatives for the Conference Plenary, where they will present the panel’s conclusions and debate with representatives of the EU institutions and national parliaments.
Participants welcomed the opportunity to talk about the issues facing the EU. Claudia, a teenager from Italy, said: “This is very interesting. I didn't know much about politics and economics, but I am very happy to be here, to meet people from different cultures and discuss a whole range of different problems."
Eduardo, from Spain, said: “It's been an incredible experience. I didn't know what to expect, but I could never imagine something like this. I wish I could have done it 20 years ago."
The second session will be held online on 5-7 November, while the third will take place in person 3-5 December in Dublin.
The other European citizens’ panels will start their work in the coming weekends. The second panel, which focuses on EU democracy, values, rights, rule of law and security, meets from 24 to 26 September.
Source: European Parliament News