On 11 and 12 March, the
fourth meeting of the plenary of the Conference on the Future of Europe
took place et the European Parliament in Strasbourg. A total of 88
recommendations from the European Citizens’ Panels no 1 which covers three
of the nine topics of the Conference (a stronger economy, social justice,
jobs; education, youth, culture, sport; digital transformation) and no 4 which covers two (EU in the world and
migration) were debated. Citizens from Ukraine were also given the floor.
One week after the adoption of the
Manifesto of regional and local authorities for European democracy
at the European Summit of regions and cities that sets out how 1.2 million
local and regional politicians see the future European Union,
delegates from local and regional authorities
proposed both by the European Committee of the Regions and by territorial
associations and other regional and local stakeholders intervened in both
in working groups and in Plenaries on these five topics.
EU in the World
Ukraine dominated discussions in the 'EU in the World' plenary.
(EL/EPP), President of the European Committee of the Regions and Governor
of Central Macedonia, spoke about the "terror" and destruction unleashed by
the war, highlighting the response of regions and cities and how this
experience should inform the European Union's approach to foreign policy
and crisis management. In his
speech, he emphasised that "A future European foreign policy needs to look beyond
the capitals and offer a special role and adequate resources to the
regional and local level," and he and voiced his support for "increased
strategic autonomy of the EU".
(DE/EPP), secretary of state for federal, European and international
affairs for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, voiced support for efforts
to reduce the EU's dependence on Russian oil and gas, saying "we have to
cut off the lifeline of Putin's war machine". However, he insisted that a
"support mechanism" would be needed for "those regions that will bear the
Education, Youth, Culture and Sport
In the working group and the plenary session on education, youth, culture
(IE/EA), member of Cork County Council and president of the European
Alliance group, emphasised the potential of the EU's New European Bauhaus
project, which attempts to connect the European Green Deal and communities
by rethinking the way in which we live together. This has, he said, "so
much potential to really make a difference to blend" together cultural
elements such as art, architecture, film, music, storytelling and
"United in diversity is more important now than ever before with the tragic
and inhumane events in Ukraine. It also symbolises a European Union rich
with many different cultures, traditions and languages. A richness which we
need to nurture, promote and safeguard", Mr McCarthy further stated.
During the plenary session, different speakers underlined the need to
promote the sense of European belonging and identity and to secure these
values for the future of Europe.
(RO/EPP), Mayor of Cluj-Napoca, pointed out that education and culture are
the "foundations of our European way of life" and "best antidote to
intolerance, ignorance, racism or violence". "Education and active citizens
build strong democracies. Lack of education, ignorance and passive citizens
pave the road for dictatorship and authoritarian regimes", he warned.
Mr Boc also underlined the need to take strong action at EU level to reduce
regional disparities in education and to tackle the issue of brain drain.
"No-one in Europe should be forced to leave his city or region for economic
reasons", he stressed.
A stronger economy, social justice and jobs
In the plenary on "A stronger economy, social justice and jobs",
participants highlighted the need for a stronger economy in light of the
war in Ukraine. The impact that sanctions in Russia will have on the
European economy will show that the EU needs to strengthen and create a
more sustainable economic model. Sustainable energy should therefore be the
focus to become more independent from external energy suppliers.
(FR/PES), Mayor of Coulaines, underlined the importance of a human and
social dimension in the energy transition and that "we have to make sure
that the EU is more independent. We don’t want to be reliant on Chinese or
Russian energy in the future."
He also emphasized that "territorial cohesion is part of the EU's DNA.
Countries that have joined the EU in the past 20 years have improved their
living standards due to the European cohesion policy. We need to encourage
local employers to have a more social policy towards their employees to set
common values for children, young people and elderly in the future."
Citizens and politicians debated that local businesses should work together
more on a European level and share their expertise to improve productivity
and ensure a fair work life balance with reasonable work conditions.
During the plenary session on digital transformation,
(IT/ECR), President of the Council of the Veneto Region, underlined that
the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine are showing the need
to protect EU citizens from the spread of fake news. "I am not talking
about censorship but looking at verified information", he clarified. Mr
Ciambetti also called on the EU to promote personal data protection from
third countries interferences: "We absolutely need to make sure that our
sensitive data is not managed by multinationals or third countries that
could use them for business purposes or to increase political instability
in our countries".
The need for clear rules for big tech companies, the call for the access to
stable and fast internet connection all around Europe – including in rural
and disadvantage areas -, and the proposal to regulate teleworking with a
"human centric approach", were the other main topics highlighted by the
citizens and politicians during the plenary debate.
The massive flow of refugees from Ukraine was also a central topic in the
working group on migration, whose rapporteur is Cees Loggen. Speaking on
behalf of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions,
Mr Loggen – a former member of the CoR – welcomed the "unprecedented
decision by the EU Council to trigger a Temporary Protection Directive for
the first time since it was adopted in 2001". He added, however, that the
refugee crisis "highlights that the current EU asylum system needs to be
completely overhauled", and that "building capacity at the local and
regional level is key".
More information, webstreaming links and pictures can be found here.