The Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) kicked off with its inaugural plenary meeting on June 19. This conference can be seen as a true liberal project where citizens are key and central. As part of the European Committee of the Regions delegation, five of our members will aim to strengthen the role of local and regional authorities in the EU.
The EU is facing many challenges: the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, climate change, economic recovery, migration, rule of law,… If the EU wants to tackle all this issues, then we need to reform and renew the EU. This Conference on the future of Europe is therefore a unique opportunity to strengthen the democratic dimension of the European Union and to restore citizens’ trust in the European project.
From our side, our delegation consists of five members: François Decoster, our President and Mayor of Saint-Omer, France; Mirja Vehkaperä, chair of the city board of Oulu, Finland, Paula Fernández Viaña, Minister of the interior, justice and foreign action in the government of Cantabria; Jasna Gabrič , Mayor of Trbovlje, Slovenia, and Dainis Turlais, city councillor in Riga, Latvia. On top of this Renew Europe CoR delegation as part of the European Committee of the Regions, our member Simone Beissel, Deputy Mayor of Luxembourg City, also participates on the Conference on the Future of Europe, representing her country, Luxembourg.
François Decoster, Renew Europe CoR President and Mayor of Saint-Omer:
One of the main concerns for citizens is that the EU is relevant to them, not distant, and delivers results. As the local and regional councillors in the EU amount to one million, it is essential that local and regional politicians in the EU are more involved in reaching out to citizens regarding EU affairs. I have been championing two projects for several years, that I would like to see in the final conclusions of the Conference: 1. Setting up of an Erasmus for local and regional councillors – involving trainings in Brussels and in one or two other municipalities and/or regions in Europe. 2. EU councillors – all local and regional councils to appoint one councillor responsible for EU affairs. A huge network of EU councillors can help keep citizens connected, informed, and contributing to policy results. And the Erasmus can help train that network to deliver EU policies on the ground
For this CoFoE, a civic platform was created as a hub where every citizen can share their ideas per topic. How do you see the Union? What would you like to see improved? As the future is in your hands, it is important to make your voice heard. This can be done on the Conference on the Future of Europe’s website.
The CoR will present its final contribution to the Conference at the 9th European Summit of Regions and Cities, to be held during the French Presidency of the Council on 3-4 March 2022.