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Going ahead: recommendations for the EU’s Conference on the Future of Europe

The EU’s Conference on the Future of Europe has gained momentum. Four citizens' panels with randomly selected EU citizens were held. More than 14,000 ideas were collected on a digital platform. But what are these achievements worth? How can the innovations of the conference ensure a better, more participatory EU in the long term? A report by the High-Level Advisory Group of our Conference Observatory provides answers to these questions.

Contact Persons

Foto Dominik Hierlemann
Dr. Dominik Hierlemann
Senior Advisor
Foto Stefan Roch
Dr. Stefan Roch
Project Manager


Since the beginning of the Conference on the Future of Europe, our foundation has been involved in the Conference Observatory in cooperation with the European Policy Centre, the King Baudouin Foundation and the Mercator Foundation. We constructively engage with the Conference through our own analyses and discussion rounds. Our High-Level Advisory Group, led by the former President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and European scholar Brigid Laffan, is now presenting an interim report.

How well do the conference procedures work? What needs to change to achieve tangible results? And what lessons can we draw from the Conference for a more participatory Europe in which all citizens can get involved?

Citizens' Panels

When the Conference started in May 2021, there was no shortage of big words. At last, the EU and its citizens were to move closer together. So far, the conference has not fully delivered on its promises. The interests of member states diverge, EU institutions remain reluctant, the conference procedure is too complex. Despite those challenges, the conference has delivered substantial impetus for a more democratic EU. Four innovative citizens' panels were held with 200 randomly selected Europeans from all walks of life and all 27 member states. Participants met over several weekends and worked out concrete recommendations for future EU policy.

Five concrete recommendations of the High Level Advisory Group

For the conference to be a success, the results of the citizens' work cannot be ignored. Their ideas and results must be taken seriously by the EU institutions and member states. Our High-Level Advisory Group makes five concrete recommendations on what should be done to achieve this:

  1. Raise the stakes: Renewed political will from all EU institutions is necessary for the Citizens' Panel’s recommendations to have a chance of being implemented.
  2. Continued deliberation between citizens and politics: Discussions between EU Citizens’ Panels and policymakers must not end abruptly.
  3. Increased transparency: The work and functioning of the Conference Plenary and Working Groups needs more clarity.
  4. Concrete policy proposals: It is the task of policymakers to translate the recommendations of the Citizens' Panels into actionable policy proposals.
  5. Clarity in dealing with results: There needs to be a comprehensible procedure for dealing with the results of Citizens' Panels and the Conference as a whole.

The group around Herman Van Rompuy, including renowned Europe experts, also provides initial suggestions on how European citizens' panels could become an integral part of the EU’s institutional model in the future. What the conference has shown is that the EU can and needs to work more closely with its citizens. It is now time to ensure that the EU actually does so in the future.