The Future of Europe Conference is a unique opportunity for European citizens to discuss the challenges and future priorities of Europe. A place to reflect on what the future of the European Union can look like and what issues are important to us.
My focus here is the “role of the EU in the world”. Today, I met with members from all political groups to discuss and identify keypoints we want to continue working on in the future. The last few months have made it painfully clear to us how important a values-based foreign policy is for mastering global challenges. Only through international cooperation on equal footing can we achieve peace, security and justice.
Personally, I would have wished that especially young people from our immediate neighborhood, the Western Balkans, could have participated in the conference on the future of Europe themselves. Since this was unfortunately not possible, I will try to give them a voice indirectly in the working groups and the plenary sessions.
The participation of citizens is the most important part of the conference. The participation of citizens brings a special atmosphere to the Parliament building in Strasbourg, from the lively discussions at the lunch table in the canteen to the constructive debates in the various forums. It is the task of the Commission to take up these many constructive ideas and impulses and transform them into real policy.
The European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission have committed themselves to listen to the Europeans and to follow the recommendations within the scope of their competences.
The conference is expected to produce conclusions with guidelines for the future of Europe by spring 2022.
The text of my speech in plenary on October 23:
“The Europe of the future must become a “Europe of inclusion”! Anyone who talks about the future of the European Union today must also talk to people who are not yet part of the EU but who, as Europeans, are of course part of the European family.
It is about the young generation in the accession states in the Western Balkans. We should also listen to their voice when planning the future of a new European Union!
We should not exclude people for social reasons or for geographical reasons. For young people, the enlargement of the EU is THE hope, THE perspective they desperately want to work towards. They are our partners in the reform efforts in their home countries – in Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia and Serbia – they fight there together with us against corruption and for more rule of law, for clean air and better living conditions.
As Europeans in the EU, we have experienced decades of peace, but Europeans in the Western Balkans have gone through hard times, many traumatized by the war in the 1990s. For them, admission to the EU also means the hope of lasting peace. Granting this peace in the whole of Europe is part of our historical responsibility!”
Listen to my speech here: