Conference on the Future of Europe

The Conference on the Future of Europe was launched on Europe Day, 9 May 2021, to improve EU engagement with its citizens and create a forum where we have the opportunity to shape what the EU might look like in the next five, ten, twenty years.

Running until the middle of 2022, the Conference is an opportunity for people all over the EU to share their ideas about the opportunities and challenges facing the EU, and how we might address them.

The Conference on the Future of Europe is a bottom-up project to shape and guide political change across the Union. Across all 27 member states, citizens are taking part in locally organised events and forums, and sharing their outcomes and ideas on the EU’s multilingual hub.

In Ireland, the Department of Foreign Affairs are taking the overall lead, with Minister of State for EU Affairs Thomas Byrne TD overseeing the project.

EM Ireland's Conference on the Future of Europe project

Our plan

EM Ireland are a lead organisation carrying out national Conference events in Ireland. Our goal is to create a set of proposals that accurately reflect the opportunities and challenges for the EU identified by people living in Ireland. These will be shared with the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of State for EU Affairs, and the EU.

Our plan is to create a comprehensive proposal that has been discussed, deliberated, and decided on by as broad a range of voices in Ireland. We want to speak to diverse voices who don’t always feel they are heard in discussions around Europe. One of our key focuses is young people, who must have a significant say in proposals that will affect their future.

What are we doing?

We’re carrying out a series of small regionally focused online panels where participants take this series of discussion papers as jumping off points and discuss their vision.

After we’ve finished these panels, our rapporteur will take everyone’s ideas and create a comprehensive position paper that is an accurate reflection of the discussions we’ve had.

This paper will form the backbone of our proposal – in Autumn 2021 we’ll tour this paper around he country, and through a process of discussion and voting, make some concrete proposals.

In early 2022, we’ll carry out the process again, speaking specifically to young people, minorities, and other groups who we haven’t had a chance to speak to in the process up to this point. The results from this stage will be amalgamated with the first set of proposals, and be submitted.

Resources

The Conference is focused on a range of policy issues. We have created some Position Papers that carry some basic independent information, and have been developed in partnership with academics around Ireland. They also provide suggestions on areas where you can carry out further research.

  • Climate Change and the Environment
  • Digital Transformation
  • The Economy
  • The EU in the World
  • Health
  • Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law
  • Other issues (European Democracy; Migration; Education, Culture and Sport)

We want to hear as many ideas as possible, and from a diverse range of people. If you want to learn more about the issues, these resources are a good place to start.  If you want to discuss these papers or share some thoughts, you can email us on conference@europeanmovement.ie.

How can you make your voice heard?

There are many ways to take part in the Conference on the Future of Europe.

  • You can take part in one of EM Ireland’s online panels. Email us on conference@europeanmovment.ie to check if there’s one happening soon.
  • You can attend one of our National Town Halls, which will take place in the Autumn. There will be at least four, and will be focused on different regions of the country. We will advertise them on local media and online in advance. Please note, we will follow Government Advice as to whether these can take place safely in person, or will take place online.
  • You can submit ideas directly to us on conference@europeanmovement.ie. It can be helpful to read some of our position papers beforehand, but it’s not compulsory. We’re keen to hear as many viewpoints as possible.
  • You can submit ideas yourself to the Conference on the Future of Europe Multilingual Digital Platform, or you can organise your own events and submit reports too. If you would like some help to organise an event, get in contact with us.
  • Our CEO Noelle O Connell is Ireland’s National Citizens’ Representative on the Conference Plenary. She is keen to get ideas from as many voices as possible, and is noting information we’re gathering throughout this process is. Ireland’s Alternative National Citizens’ Representative is Emmy Coffey Nguyen.

How does the Conference work?

The Conference has a straightforward structure.

There will be four Citizens Panels held across the EU, both online and in person. One of these events will be held in Dublin. Participants will be drawn at random. There is also an official online portal where information can be directly submitted. Citizens can also take part in nationally organised forums (for instance, those organised by EM Ireland), and submit ideas through them.

Recommendations from the Panels, submissions from the online portal and submissions from nationally organised forums will be debated by the Plenary of the Conference (who will meet six times). The Plenary is made up of 108 representatives from the European Parliament, 54 members from the European Council, and three from the European Commission, as well as 108 members from all 27 Member State parliaments, 80 representatives chosen from the Citizens Panels, 27 National Citizen Representatives, representatives from the Committee of the Regions, the European Economic and Social Committee, and representatives of the social partners and civil society. The Plenary will work towards consensus decisions, which will be submitted to the Executive Board.

The Executive Board is made up of representatives from the three institutions. Other EU bodies and social partners, such as the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee, may also be invited as observers. They will make recommendations to Joint Presidency of the Conference, based on the decisions made by the Pleanary.

The Joint Presidency of the Conference is made up of the President of the European Parliament, the President of the European Commission, and the President of the Council.

Each EU institution will follow up on proposals made by the Executive individually.

Ireland's National Citizens' Representatives

In June, EM Ireland CEO Noelle O Connell was nominated by Minister of State for EU Affairs Thomas Byrne, as Ireland’s National Citizens’ Representative to the Conference on the Future of Europe Plenary. Emmy Coffey Nguyen was nominated as Alternative National Citizens’ Representative.

Noelle’s role is to represent the views of Irish citizens are reflected in an authentic way throughout the process. For more on her nomination, you can read our Press Release.