Celebrations with an eye to the future
The Commission launched unique consultation to spur debate among citizens about the way forward for Europe
10 May, 2018101The Commission has chosen the Day of Europe, 9 May, to launch a unique consultation aimed at broadening the debate on the future of Europe, the EU press service reported. Europe Day marks the presentation of the Schuman Declaration in 1950, which proposed the creation of a European Coal and Steel Community, the forerunner to the European Union.
While the EU as a whole and all Member States marked Europe's Day, many asked how much is there actually to be celebrated with euro-scepticism gaining ground across the Union. In countries such as Italy and Greece, it has its roots in the economic crisis, with people blaming the EU for their own problems. In Eastern European countries such as Poland and Hungary, Brussels is castigated for the migrants' distribution, which is countering local traditions.
“With the European elections around the corner, it is time to decide what the European Union at 27 should be. Whatever happens, it must be a Europe built by Europeans. The survey we are launching today puts the question to all Europeans: What future do we want for ourselves, for our children and for our Union? Now is the time for Europeans to make their voices heard, loud and clear, on the issues that concern them and what they want their leaders to do about them,” EC President Jean-Claude Juncker said.
The questions in the consultation, assembled by a panel of 96 citizens from 27 Member States, range widely. Some ask whether citizens would like to have more harmonisation, others go straight to asking what should be done to improve access to health care for all Europeans. According to the Commission's press release, the consultation is a “unique exercise in participative democracy” aimed at “putting citizens at the heart of the conversation on the Future of Europe”.
The questions are a part of a broader debate launched with the Commission's March 2017 White Paper on the Future of Europe. The online consultation will run in tandem with the ongoing Citizens' Dialogues, which are hosted by the national offices of the Commission. These 700 interactive public debates have already taken place in 160 cities across Europe since 2012. Members of the Commission have been travelling across Europe and listening to citizens' views on the different scenarios put forward, giving everyone a chance to contribute to shaping the Union.
Ahead of the May 2019 European elections, the Commission hopes to increase their frequency, with a target of organising 500 more events over the course of the next year. Public consultations are planned to run for a year, until the Sibiu Summit on the future of the European Union in Romania on 9 May 2019. The Commission will present an interim report by the end of this year, as EU leaders are committed to a Europe that brings real results in issues that matter most to people.