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Conference on the Future of Europe: local and regional leaders at the heart of citizens' consultations  

CoR calls for the establishment of a permanent EU citizens' assembly in interim report

A permanent process of consultation with citizens, through their local and regional representatives, would be a major improvement to European democracy, according to the European Committee of the Regions (CoR). As the latest round of debates under the Conference on the Future of Europe takes place in Strasbourg this weekend, the CoR has published an interim report based on the input given by citizens during local dialogues on the nine main themes of the Conference. The input from nearly 130 dialogues with citizens across the EU clearly shows that local and regional leaders are seen as key actors in this consultation process. The ideas collected during these dialogues were submitted to the digital platform of the Conference and will reflect the voice of citizens alongside the European citizens' panels organised as part of the Conference.

The CoR's report reflects the results of more than 130 events that took place in 2021, reaching out to more than 10 000 citizens, local politicians and stakeholders. The CoR has worked together with the Bertelsmann Foundation, local and regional administrations, associations representing local and regional interests, and EU institutions with the aim of consulting citizens and local politicians on the nine topics of the Conference in order to help develop its own position on the future of European democracy.

Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the European Committee of the Regions and Head of the delegation of local and regional authorities at the plenary of the Conference on the Future of Europe, said: "The Conference on the Future of Europe is the opportunity to listen to the citizens and their needs and discuss with them solutions that will bring concrete, tangible results. From the very beginning the European Committee of the Regions' commitment has been to bring the Conference to every region, city and village of Europe, and we believe that the European Union must continue this dialogue with the citizens because this will strengthen our European democracy. This interim report shows that EU regions and cities have developed multiple and innovative approaches and the respect of key principles, such as inclusiveness, deliberation and valuing the impact of citizens’ assemblies is key to ensure successful and sustainable citizens’ engagement processes. A permanent citizens’ assembly at EU level should link up the different levels of parliaments and governments, as they are important in terms of addressing specific territorial challenges that citizens face like in border regions, regions in demographic decline and remote or rural areas. Our 30‑member strong delegation of local and regional leaders in the Conference plenary will advocate for the establishment of a EU citizens' assembly in its discussions with other delegates."

Among the initial findings of the interim report are:

A permanent EU Citizens’ Assembly linking the local, regional, national and European levels of governance could be a follow-up to the Conference on the Future of Europe. In order to ensure a place-based approach, citizens with specific needs from border regions, remote regions, regions facing demographic challenges, rural areas or tourism destinations could be represented in this Assembly.

- A permanent EU Citizens’ Assembly as follow-up on the Conference should move beyond the listening phase and focus on ensuring that meaningful input from citizens is taken into account in EU policies and legislation.

 - Regions and cities are key players in citizens’ participation: citizens’ participation has become a new method of policy-making, which complements representative democracy in many EU regions and cities. This report confirms the interest of local governments in developing deliberative citizens’ involvement, on both a local and European scale.

- Communication and transparency are key: citizens’ participation on a European scale should be accompanied by a multilingual communication approach, which provides information, transparency and the possibility for other interested parties from all EU countries to become involved.

The final version of the report will be made available on the occasion of the 9th European Summit of Regions and Cities in Marseille, France, on 3 and 4 March 2022.

Background:

Read the CoR interim report "Citizens, local politicians and the future of Europe".

The delegation of local and regional authorities' objective at the plenary sessions of the Conference on the Future of Europe is to reach out to the other 420 delegates to strengthen the role of local and regional authorities in the democratic functioning of the European Union and to promote the territorial dimension of EU policies. Beside the participation in all formats of the Conference Plenary and the organisation and reporting of citizens' dialogues, the CoR delegation's work is to:

- provide written contributions with support of the High Level Group on European Democracy , an independent advisory body of seven wise men and women chaired by former European Council President Herman van Rompuy whose mission is to support the CoR's political and institutional role by providing strategic political analysis with focus on local and regional aspects.

- build alliances of like-minded delegates in the Conference to jointly promote recommendations that are of relevance to regions, cities and villages across the EU.

- mobilise its networks like the associations of local and regional authorities across the EU, the network of former CoR members and the network of EU local councillors in order to encourage local and regional politicians to organise citizens' debates The results of these consultations will be reported at the Conference Plenary.

Read the CoR contribution to the Conference on the Future of Europe in the multilingual platform of the Conference on the Future of Europe.


Contact:

Marie-Pierre Jouglain

Tel. +32 473 52 41 15

mariepierre.jouglain@cor.europa.eu




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