The European citizens' panel in Maastricht on 11-13 February came up with 40 recommendations on dealing with migration and making the EU stronger internationally.
The recommendations focus on five areas:
- Self-reliance and stability
- The EU as an international partner
- A strong EU in a peaceful world
- Migration from a human point of view
- Responsibility and solidarity across the EU
The meeting was part of the Conference on the Future of Europe and reunited some 200 people from all EU countries. Due to the current Covid-19 situation, panellists were also able to join remotely.
Enrico Giannotti, a participant from Italy, said the recommendations are “very comprehensive”, adding, “I hope they will be taken on board by European political authorities”.
Panellists expressed strong support for direct democratic exercises such as the Conference, which they recommend continues to be organised on an annual basis.
After exchanging views on all aspects of migration, panellists recommended measures to address its causes and regulate it in a humanitarian way, to better integrate refugees and to share responsibilities among all EU countries.
Participants noted that migration is not necessarily a problem. They proposed giving access to the European labour market to asylum seekers with relevant qualifications and improving conditions for workers migrating within the EU.
Inequalities along external EU borders were also highlighted. To address that, participants recommended that the European border agency Frontex is reinforced and made more transparent.
“Northern countries that don’t have many external borders should contribute more to a central body, such as Frontex, in order to help Southern countries, which face more (migratory) pressure,” said Péter Csákai-Szöke from Hungary.
The EU in the world
The EU’s dependence on imports of strategic goods, such as medicines, semiconductors, energy and food, was a major concern. The panel recommended better support for local production and increasing the output of renewable energy in order to reduce dependency “to the largest possible extent”.
It also proposed that most decisions in the field of foreign affairs be taken by qualified majority instead of unanimity to speed up responses to crises and to consolidate the EU’s presence in the world through a united front.
The EU should also apply restrictions to imports from countries that don’t comply with ethical or environmental criteria and promote values like human rights and democracy abroad, panellists recommended.
“We didn’t agree on everything, but were able to meet half-way on those topics and this is wonderful,” said Ewa Buchta, from Poland.
Representatives of the panel will present and debate the recommendations at the next Conference Plenary 11-12 March 2022 in Strasbourg. The plenary includes representatives of the EU institutions, national parliaments, civil society and citizens.
The final outcome of the Conference will be presented in a report to the presidents of the Parliament, Council, and European Commission, who have committed to following up on these recommendations.
The remaining European Citizens’ Panel will adopt its recommendations 25-27 February in Dublin, Ireland:
Panel 1: stronger economy, social justice, jobs, education, culture, youth, sport, digital transformation
Share your ideas for the future of Europe on the Conference platform