Europeans debate how to strengthen democracy and rule of law

Discover what was discussed during the second citizens’ panel of the Conference for the Future of Europe on 24-26 September.

Conference on the Future of Europe: citizens discuss European values and rights

Some 200 Europeans of different ages, nationalities and backgrounds gathered to exchange ideas on EU democracy, values, rights, security and the rule of law in the second citizens’ panel of the Conference for the Future of Europe in Strasbourg. Watch the video to find out more.

“It is necessary to continue working on awareness-raising about the European Union, the work of its institutions on regulation and well-being for all its inhabitants,” said Gašper Dovžan, Slovenian State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and co-chair of the Conference on behalf of the Council.

“The EU represents our everyday life, and yet we should never take it for granted,” he added. “It must be fought for. We must be aware that only in a peaceful and united Europe is the future for a better life for all of us,” he told participants.

Calls for engagement, inclusion and equality

Among the issues raised were strengthening participation in European elections through better information campaigns, protecting the process from foreign interference and bringing EU institutions closer to people.

Andrea, from Italy, said: “A Europe that is closer to its citizens and that citizens feel a part of can really have an effect on everyone's lives: on our work and life choices, also on our perception of our freedoms and on our place within society.”

Participants highlighted the importance of looking beyond national perspectives and hearing experiences from other countries.

They also called for more attention to gender equality and inclusion.

“What I hope is that Europe could bring me more well-being on a daily basis. It means access to culture, sports, a financial base and less stress (...), which could allow everybody to have a life that suits them,” said Yola, from France.

Main topics of discussion

Panellists selected five topics to be discussed during upcoming meetings:

  • Ensuring rights and non-discrimination
  • Protecting democracy and the rule of law
  • Reforming the EU
  • Building European identity
  • Strengthening citizen participation

The issues that will be addressed within these topics include education on democracy, media information, privacy, human rights, inclusion of people with disabilities, protection from sexual abuse, migration management and gender equality.

Twenty representatives were selected to take part in the Conference Plenary and to debate with representatives of the EU institutions and national parliaments.

What lies ahead?

The panel on democracy, values, rights, security and the rule of law will meet online on 12-14 November. A third session will take place in person on 10-12 December in Florence.

The panel looking at climate change, the environment and health will meet for the first time on 1-3 October in Strasbourg.

Proposals from the panels will help shape the Conference’s recommendations, expected in spring 2022.

Get involved and share your ideas for the future of Europe on the Conference platform.

Find out what was discussed by the first panel.