Bratislava, December 14 (TASR) – Taking into account the views of the citizens of the European Union on its future functioning is important for strengthening their confidence in the integration project and increasing their interest in the governance of common European affairs, Slovak MEP Monika Benova (Smer-SD) has told TASR in connection with the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE).
The MEP believes that the Conference, which will give some 800 randomly selected citizens of member states the opportunity to comment on how the EU functions, will help to find common European solutions to existing challenges. Benova also expects that the CoFoE will contribute towards deepening mutual solidarity and fellowship in the EU.
“The conference should bring answers to questions concerning what needs to be done differently and better, and at the same time how people imagine the future of the joint integration project,” said Benova on the conference, which has been running since the spring of 2021 and will culminate with a final report in the spring of 2022.
“The conference allows all those who have been calling for changes for a long time to present their concrete proposals regarding the direction that integration processes should take in the future and the benefits that can be expected from the changes they have proposed,” stated the MEP.
She sees the biggest room for improvement in the areas of climate change and related environmental challenges, digital transformation, strengthening equality, social justice and workers’ protection, improving the functioning of the common market and economic recovery in the context of the coronavirus crisis. According to Benova, it’s the coronavirus pandemic that has shown “the need to streamline and strengthen joint response tools to manage crises”.
Benova sees it as an open question as to whether the CoFoE’s conclusions will be implemented and incorporated into EU reforms or not. The result could be an adjustment of existing political priorities, including specific follow-up political measures, as well as a possible amendment to existing European treaties, she said.
“It will only be possible to estimate the timetable when we know what specific changes should be made. Given this direct mandate from the public, I find it important for the European Parliament to play a key role in any process of change,” stressed the MEP.
The CoFoE is organised by the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission. It enables EU citizens to express their opinions on its future direction. A total of 800 citizens have been divided into four citizens’ panels that will each meet three times.