The European Centre for Workers’ Questions (EZA) began a series of contributions to the Conference on the Future of Europe with a kick-off event. Together with some 50 participants, five speakers discussed expectations and wishes to the EU.
The participants from all over Europe gathered online to speak about key points of the Conference on the Future of Europe. In general, the initiative was welcomed; it stems from an initiative of French President Emmanuel Macron and was included by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her agenda for Europe.
It is to be considered positive that there is a dialogue with the people, said Prof. Steven van Hecke from the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium) in his presentation. However, care had to be taken that this conference was not praised too much so that at the end the expectations could only be disappointed. “The political scope and timeline are very limited. So, the question is to what extent the results of the conference can really result in reforms”, said Professor van Hecke.
Caro Moch from JOC Europe (European YCW) for one spoke during the two-hour event from the viewpoint of young people. She described a major disappointment among young people with regard to their future prospects. “We all grew up with and in the EU, and yet frequently have precarious jobs, find ourselves in an endless series of internships and have differing opportunities in different countries”, said Caro Moch. Key changes were still required here for a solid, competitive future of Europe.
All the participants were agreed that the EU should show no tolerance with violations of democracy and the rule of law. Transgressions were punished too little, meaning the EU failed to live up to its own values. Developments threatening democracy, as observed for instance in EU member states Poland and Hungary, had to be met by a strong answer from the EU.
“The conference is an opportunity for every citizen to be heard in the EU”, said EZA President Luc Van den Brande. “For a workers’ organisation like EZA, it is essential to pass views, experiences and suggestions on to the Commission. We want to contribute to this with our online series of seminars and our final conference in Brussels.”
Altogether EZA will host three more online events, which will be accessible to all interested parties from September 2021. In early 2022 the big final conference will be an attendance event in Brussels.