Brussels (Brussels Morning) France’s President Emmanuel Macron launched his Conference on the Future of Europe on Monday, which will take the form of citizens’ consultations through an online platform, RFI reported.
The conference, as envisioned by Macron, is scheduled to culminate next spring when France takes over the rotating presidency of the EU. The President launched the conference in Strasbourg, stressing he wanted to ensure that the city maintained its relevance.
“If Brussels is the capital of Europe’s offices, Strasbourg is the capital of its heart and soul,: where it is, where its values are defended”, Macron declared, noting how the city is home to such institutions as the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights.
Response to authoritarianism
In talking about the future of Europe, Macron called for a more agile and reactive European Union. “In the face of authoritarianism, the only valid response is the authority of democracy”, he said. “This can only be won through efficiency and speed”.
Macron received the backing of several of his counterparts in other EU member states. Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa commented that the conference should not remain a “Brussels-centred exercise.”
Voice of citizens
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also backed the endeavour, noting “we are at a particularly important moment for young people to express themselves”. President of the European Parliament David Sassoli stressed that the conference is intended for ordinary citizens. “Europe is not just for the elites, nor does it belong to them”, he observed. .
“This is a wonderful opportunity for citizens to say how they see Europe”, Strasbourg’s Mayor Jeanne Barseghian noted. “It is essential that the voice of European citizens is heard. The conference should not be a gimmick or an empty shell”, she added.