As part of the von der Leyen Commission's priority "A new push for European democracy", the convening of a Conference on the Future of Europe was announced at the end of 2019, with the aim of launching a series of debates and discussions that will allow citizens from across Europe to share their ideas to help shape the future of Europe.

Jointly organised and led by the Commission, the Council and the Parliament, the Conference is intended as a major pan-European democratic exercise, the first of its kind, providing a new public forum for an open, inclusive and transparent debate with citizens on a number of key priorities and challenges. The European Parliament in particular insisted that citizens from all backgrounds, civil society representatives and stakeholders at European, national, regional and local level be involved in defining EU priorities in line with citizens' concerns in a participatory and balanced approach.

The aim of the Conference is to strengthen the link between European citizens and the Institutions that serve them through a series of conferences, events and debates organised across the EU and through an already active multilingual interactive digital platform where all citizens are invited to express their views. The platform was launched on 19 April 2021 and is organised around a number of key themes: climate change and environment; health; a stronger and fairer economy; social justice and employment; the EU in the world; values and rights, rule of law, security; digital transformation; European democracy; migration; education, culture, youth and sport. The platform's key ideas and recommendations will be used as input for the European Citizens' Panels and Plenaries, where they will be discussed to produce the conclusions of the Conference.

The opening event that officially kicked off the initiative was held on 9 May 2021, Europe Day, while the first plenary took place in the European Parliament building in Strasbourg on 19 June. The Conference plenary includes 108 representatives from the European Parliament, 54 from the Council (two per Member State) and 3 from the European Commission, in addition to 108 representatives from all national parliaments and citizens. 108 Europeans will participate to discuss the ideas stemming from the citizens' panels and the multilingual digital platform: 80 representatives from the European citizens' panels, at least one third of whom will be under 25 years old, and 27 from the national citizens' panels or conference events (one per Member State), plus the President of the European Youth Forum. Gender equality is ensured in the selection process of the citizens' representatives.

In addition, 18 representatives each of both the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee are participating to the initiative, as well as 8 others from both social partners and civil society, while the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy will be invited for discussions relating to the international role of the EU. An Executive Committee is also envisaged, representing the three institutions equally and in which national parliaments have observer status; the Executive Committee is responsible for preparing the plenary meetings of the Conference, including citizens' contributions and their follow-up.

At the inaugural plenary, representatives - including citizens - discussed the purpose and expectations of the Conference. The second part of the meeting focused on more procedural issues, including the timetable for the next plenaries of the Conference, the various European Citizens' Panels to be held from September 2021 and the European Citizens' Event held in Lisbon on 17 June. The Conference is also committed to giving maximum space to young people, and in this regard, preparations will continue for the European Youth Event organised by the European Parliament on 8 and 9 October. The next plenary session of the Conference on the Future of Europe is scheduled for 22-23 October 2021.

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