Time for real EU unity: Conference adopts proposals for change

The Conference on the Future of Europe plenary adopted 49 proposals with more than 300 measures for change at its final session on 29-30 April.

The proposals draw on recommendations from European citizens’ panels, national citizens’ panels and events as well as ideas submitted on the online platform of the Conference.

They were formulated in nine working groups including citizens, members of the European Parliament, the Council, the European Commission and national parliaments as well as representatives of other EU bodies, regional and local authorities, social partners and civil society.

Speaking at the end of the plenary session, Conference co-chair Guy Verhofstadt said that the work of the Conference is a return to the legacy of those who set the foundation for the European project after the Second World War. Referring to the challenges that the EU faces now, including the war in Ukraine, he said: “It’s time to go back to [the founding fathers’] dream, to their initial objective of creating real European unity, real European integration. A revival of the ideas of the founding fathers is necessary for the survival of our beautiful continent.”

In an earlier plenary speech, Verhofstadt had described the perils ahead and the need for the EU to change: “The world of tomorrow is a world of empires. It's a world of danger and in this world we need to defend ourselves, to organise ourselves [...] and therefore we need to reform the EU. Not because we like reforms or because it's fun to do it, but because it is necessary for our survival, because otherwise Europe will disappear.”

Guy Verhofstadt, co-chair of the Conference on the Future of Europe
Guy Verhofstadt, co-chair of the Conference on the Future of Europe

The proposals

The proposals adopted by the Conference plenary are grouped into nine topics: climate change and the environment; health; a stronger economy, social justice and jobs; the EU in the world; values and rights, rule of law, security; digital transformation; European democracy; migration; education, culture, youth and sport.

They include calls for a shift in energy production towards renewables, establishing a right for all EU citizens to health care, giving the European Parliament a right of legislative initiative, removing unanimity in the Council on foreign policy and improving education on environmental issues, digital technologies, soft skills and EU values.

Find out about all the proposals of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Time for the EU to deliver

Citizens who took the floor expressed satisfaction at having taken part in the Conference and with the outcome of months of work.

Huub Verhoeven, from the Netherlands, talked about the positive attitude during deliberations: “Regardless of [people's] background or views, we were always able to work together and come to a consensus and I hope this sets a good example for the politicians.”

Valentina Balzani, from Italy, said: “We are asking for wide-ranging actions that have real and symbolic effects and we hope that our ideas will be listened to seriously and will be put into practice.”

Guy Verhofstadt said MEPs are set to call for the procedure for treaty change to be triggered when they meet on 2-5 May. This would make it possible to deliver on some of the most ambitious proposals coming out of the Conference.

He also said the EU should hold exercises similar to the Conference on a regular basis to get people involved in decision-making. “We could easily, based on our experience, organise every mid-term an exercise like this, as a guidance for the European Parliament, for the European Commission, of what needs to be done in the upcoming years.”

Conference closing event

On 9 May - Europe Day - one year after the Conference on the Future of Europe was officially launched, the co-chairs of the executive board will deliver the conclusions to the presidents of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission at a ceremony in Strasbourg.

The three institutions have committed to following up on the outcome of the Conference.