Dublin, 28 September: The EU must act on reforming its policies and institutions as outlined in the findings of a year-long citizens forum across 27 of its member states or risk ‘eroding public trust in the EU’, European Movement Ireland warns the Oireachtas.
EM Ireland appeared in front of Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs today and told its members implementing the findings of the ‘Conference on the Future of Europe’ is critical.
The Conference on the Future of Europe was a bottom-up project to shape and guide political change across the Union. Across all 27 member states in a year-long project – including in Ireland – citizens took part in locally organised events and forums.
CEO of European Movement Ireland Noelle O Connell said: “After a year of deliberations, the Conference came to an end on 9 May 2022. In the closing ceremony in Strasbourg, the Presidents of the European Parliament, Commission and Council received a final report from the Conference participants containing 49 wide-ranging, ambitious and forward-looking proposals and 326 individual measures.
“We now need to ensure that recommendations are followed by tangible, implementable proposals that deliver on the issues raised. They cannot be allowed to gather dust in some report on a shelf.”
The Committee members also heard that some of the proposals may require a Treaty change.
“While many of the proposals do not require treaty change – some may. And it is evident from the calls for a Convention that reform of the Treaties is back as a talking point after becoming a taboo subject. There is some understandable reluctance to this.
“However, we know from the Conference that people want to be engaged on what the EU is doing, want to have their voices heard and want to contribute their opinions regularly.
“From EM Ireland’s perspective, we are very clear that we want this process to continue, up to and including Treaty change, if that proves necessary. If we waste the opportunity presented by the Conference, there will be consequences. But if we grasp it, we will be a little further along on the journey towards a more inclusive, more democratic, better functioning Europe,” Ms O Connell added.
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- About the 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 citizens had 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 was 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.In Ireland, the Department of Foreign Affairs took the overall lead, with Minister of State for EU Affairs Thomas Byrne TD overseeing the project. EM Ireland was a lead organisation which carried out national Conference events in Ireland. The NGO worked in collaboration with Minister Byrne and Department of Foreign Affairs to coordinate and organise broad, open, and inclusive events where people shared their ideas and views around the key themes of the Conference.Over 70 events took place across Ireland and included more than 4,500 people from islands, minority groups, young people, community activists and business.EM Ireland CEO Noelle O Connell was also Ireland’s National Citizens’ Representative to the Conference Plenary. Following an open competition, Ms O Connell represented Ireland and presented Ireland’s national recommendations since June 2021.
Earlier this month, the European Commission also rowed in behind a Convention, with President von der Leyen expressing support during her State of the Union speech.
- About European Movement Ireland: Founded in 1954, European Movement (EM) Ireland is the longest established Irish NGO working on European affairs. An independent, not-for-profit, membership organisation, EM Ireland works to develop the connection between Ireland and the European Union. We facilitate links between all sectors of Irish society and the EU, through advocacy campaigns, education programmes, training courses, information briefings and networking events. For more information, visit europeanmovement.ie.