5 February 2021

Civil society organisations claim to be part of the Conference on the Future of Europe

On February 3, Civil Society Europe has launched a Civil Society Convention on the future of Europe through a joint declaration claiming a space for civil society organisations in the Conference on the Future of Europe. The declaration has been endorsed by nearly 70 organisations active at pan European level, including Philanthropy Advocacy, the joint Dafne and EFC initiative.

The launch event, attended by 200 participants, has been co-hosted by Domènec Ruiz Devesa, S&D Spain, and Sandro Gozi, Renew Europe, France/Italy, members of the Constitutional Affairs Committee of the European Parliament with the participation of Mattia de’ Grassi, advisor of the Vice President of the European Commission, Dubravka Šuica, responsible for the Conference on the Future of Europe.

The call for engaging philanthropy and wider civil society into the conference on the future of Europe corresponds to the first PA Manifesto asks calling for more engagement and dialogue.  Now, during these particularly challenging times it is more important than ever for philanthropy and wider civil society to engage with policy makers and to make sure its voices are heard. Together with other civil society partners, we have been calling on policy makers to work on a better implementation of Article 11 TFEU, which is the legal basis for the so-called civil dialogue.

The Conference on the Future of Europe could be a unique opportunity to truly implement the civil dialogue and give organised civil society a prominent role in the shaping of the structure of the Conference, feeding into the process and content, as well as taking further the outcomes of the Conference. However, the Conference has been delayed for almost a year and so far, we haven’t heard much about the involvement of organised civil society.

Therefore, “the Civil Society Convention fills a gap in the Conference on the Future of Europe to be launched in May: the active participation of civil society organisations in which 1 out of 5 Europeans volunteer and are part of” – says Jean Marc Roirant, President of Civil Society Europe – “only civil society organisations can make EU institutions and national governments accountable for a truly participative and democratic conference, but also for its follow up through policy, legislative and if needed Treaty change.”

The Civil Society Convention will work with the European Institutions and will send two representatives to the Interinstitutional Plenary of the Conference on the Future of Europe. It will also have a spokesperson.

The next meeting of the Civil Society Convention will be organised in March to define the agenda, and timeline, as well as establish working groups on priority topics. The Convention will also establish processes for interaction with national civil society organisations and the citizens and Youth agoras. Interested philanthropy and civil society networks are invited to sign up to the civil society convention by this form until the end of February.