Conference on the Future of Europe: Vehicle for reform vs forum for reflection

Bruegel hosts EU3D's second policy dialogue to discuss the Conference on the Future of Europe.

The Conference on the future of Europe is organised by the European Parliament, Council and Commission (Photo: European Parliament)

On Europe day (9 May) and after several delays, the EU launched the Conference on the Future of Europe. The purpose of the long-awaited Conference is, according to the Joint Declaration of March 2021, to “open a new space for debate with citizens to address Europe’s challenges and priorities.” There is a widely shared (albeit not uncontested) view that the EU is in great need of reform. The Eurozone and refugee crises, the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with the challenges associated with Brexit, the rise of populism, and a less rule-governed and predictable global order have raised concerns about the Union’s resilience and ability to deliver solutions to pressing problems. Further, there are serious concerns about the EU’s democratic deficit and its weak connection to citizens.

The Conference will devise platforms and forums for active engagement with citizens. The question is what that amounts to, and the impact the Conference will have. From the three institutions’ proposals (the European Parliament, Commission and Council) two different visions have emerged of what these platforms and bodies will look look and the anticipated result of the consultations.

We can group these two visions under the headings of ‘vehicle for reform’ and ‘forum for reflection’. The Parliament wants the process to be an exercise in participatory democracy and result in tangible reforms. Conversely, the Council has tried to scale down the scope of citizens’ participation and has explicitly stated that the process should not lead to treaty changes. At this policy dialogue organised by the research project EU3D panellists will discuss the different options and what they may entail while revisiting the debates on the future of Europe at national and EU-level that have been conducted thus far and their patterns, including preliminary findings on national parliamentary debates.

The discussion will help to establish to what extent the Conference can serve as a pan-EU undertaking and the extent to which it will be possible to turn the Conference from a forum for reflection into a reform vehicle.

Watch the recording of the debate here


Chair: Guntram B. Wolff, Director, Bruegel

  • Manfred Weber, Chair of the EPP Group, European Parliament
  • Sergio Fabbrini, Dean of the Political Science Department, LUISS University
  • John Erik Fossum, Professor and EU3D Scientific Coordinator, ARENA Centre for European Studies
  • Magdalena Góra, Associate Professor, Jagiellonian University
  • Vivien Schmidt, Jean Monnet Professor, Boston University

Ask questions during the event through using the code #europe

This event is online only and does not require registration.

You will be able to access the livestream on Bruegel's websiteTwitterYoutube, and Facebook.

Read also

  • 'Conference on the future of Europe: Vehicle for reform of forum for reflection?', Sergio Fabbrini, John Erik Fossum, Magdalena Góra and Guntram Wolff, EU3D Policy brief no. 1 May 2021
  • 'Differentiated (segmented) debate on future of Europe: The views from national parliaments', Magdalena Góra, Elodie Thevenin and Katarzyna Zielińska, Research brief, May 2021. 
Published Apr. 14, 2021 3:06 PM - Last modified July 20, 2022 12:19 PM