Bratislava, March 7 (TASR) – The organisers of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) have failed to engage EU citizens more in the debate and provide an actual Europe-wide civic debate, MEP Robert Hajsel has told TASR.
“I feel rather puzzled, as if it was chiefly about meeting a demand to organise a few discussion events and put a few pre-prepared questions to a relatively limited number of people,” said Hajsel when evaluating the CoFoE so far.
“There have been a couple of good discussions, I participated in one of them, but the organisers failed to involve citizens in the debate to a larger extent,” thinks the MEP.
“If the discussions were more focused on the issues that trouble people the most, such as their concerns about peace, the deteriorating social situation and how to fight the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic more effectively, people’s engagement would definitely look different,” stated Hajsel, who would view the involvement of at least one million people in Slovakia as “an actual civic debate”.
The CoFoE consists of four citizens’ panels made up of 800 representatives of EU citizens. Each of the panels met three times between September 2021 and February 2022. The panels will present their recommendations to the European Parliament at plenary sessions and these will be included in the final report to be prepared by the CoFoE Executive Board in the spring.
Hajsel is sceptical about the chances of the recommendations of the citizens’ panels turning into real changes, given his experience with the “functioning of the EU decision-making process”.