CoFoE: All EU Citizens Have Opportunity to Join Discussion, Says Sermek

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Illustration picture (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, November 26 (TASR) – The Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) is a platform that enables all Europeans to take part in the discussion on the future direction of the European community, Robert Sermek, the head of the European Parliament’s Office in Slovakia, has told TASR in an interview.

“The idea [to organise the CoFoE] originated several years ago. It was in the period after the referendum [on Brexit] in Great Britain, in which people, unfortunately, decided that they wanted their country to leave the European Union. At the time, European leaders said that something was wrong and that the Union was probably not going in the direction that people might want. So, the idea arose to ask people where the Union should be heading,” said Sermek.

From the very beginning, the Conference on the Future of Europe wasn’t supposed to be a one-off event at which politicians would meet behind closed doors and decide what the Union would look like in the future.

“The idea was born for us to ask the public, so that the ideas came from below … The CoFoE is a long-term process lasting for several months. We’re somewhere in the middle at the moment. The conference is due to end next spring, but that isn’t definite. It might take longer, so it’s a long-term process of self-reflection for the European Union,” stressed the chief of the EP Office in Slovakia.

On one hand, the CoFoE is a series of physical events at which people meet and discuss the future of the EU. However, there’s also the option of joining the process via the internet, said Sermek.

“There’s a possibility to join via an internet platform, so even someone sitting at a computer at home can add their proposals, their ideas. People don’t have to travel anywhere, don’t have to take part in events; they still can make a very significant contribution to the debate,” said the head of the EP Office in Slovakia.

The name itself – the Conference on the Future of Europe – is a fairly broad term, but Sermek explained that this was the intention.

“It was done on purpose so that no boundaries were created. Some specific issues have been set for the CoFoE, but these are issues that trouble everyone, such as the environment, social issues, employment, health care, education and democratic values. However, the list isn’t final, which means that there’s an opportunity to discuss anything that bothers people or that they’d like to change about the Union,” said Sermek.