Be it climate change or social justice, economy or democracy, health or digital rights: “the future is in your hands”. That is the promise of the Conference on the Future of Europe, kicked off with an inaugural event in Strasbourg this Sunday, Europe Day. The heads of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council, Ursula von der Leyen, David Sassoli and António Costa, invited citizens “to join the conversation and have their say on the future of Europe”.
The Conference shall be organised as a series of events and is expected to deliver results in the beginning of 2022. People can follow the debates and also give input directly on the digital platform for the Conference.
Not only for the people, but with the people
Giving people a direct say – cities have been following this recipe for quite a while and engaged with citizens about the design of their quarters, energy policies and other local decisions. Examples are collected in this publication on citizen engagement. The principle: a good government works not only for the people, but with the people.
“City leaders are the closest level of government to people,” said Dario Nardella, mayor of Florence and president of Eurocities. On European level, Nardella finds himself often advocating for people’s needs. Just this Friday, at the EU Summit in Porto, he urged that the historic budget for the European recovery be invested in “people’s skills. Investing in childcare, education and training infrastructure. This is what will get Europe out of the crisis” (read the full speech here).
In order for the national recovery plans to be tailored to people’s needs, the participation of cities is needed, Nardella argues. Many city leaders, though, have expressed disappointment that they have not been sufficiently involved by their national governments. Eurocities has therefore initiated the campaign #TalkWithCities.
“Working with cities is working with citizens”
In Porto, Nardella suggested to “make this summit the start of a new pact between cities, national and EU leaders to work together for a fair, inclusive and sustainable recovery in Europe”.
This would also take up the idea of the Conference on the Future of Europe to involve citizens in decision-making, Nardella said: “Working with cities is working with citizens.”