The EU Is Still Flying Blind
Given strong public support for the Conference on the Future of Europe, failure to make at least some strides toward developing a shared European vision would amount to a major missed opportunity. Worse, it would discourage those who, for better or for worse, have allowed their expectations to be raised.
MADRID – The much-anticipated Conference on the Future of Europe has begun. Announced by the European Commission and the European Parliament at the end of 2019, the conference is billed as “a citizen-led series of debates and discussions that will enable people from across Europe to share their ideas and help shape our common future.” It is unlikely to deliver.
I would like nothing more than for the conference to produce a shared vision of Europe’s future, strengthening the European Union’s foundations and dampening the siren song of populism. But consider this: the conference was nearly canceled before it began, owing to organizational challenges, many arising from institutional wrangling. How can the EU be expected to articulate a shared vision, shaped by the voices of its people, if it can barely even introduce a platform for discussion?
Ultimately, European institutions completed their negotiations – after sparring over everything from the conference president’s institutional affiliation to the entity that would channel the discussion into final proposals – and the event was salvaged. Yet, watching the proceedings so far, one would hardly know that its purpose is to restore the democratic bond between the EU and its citizens.