Sassoli at the launch of the Conference on the Future of Europe: We must have no taboos 

Extracts of the speech of the European Parliament President David Sassoli at the launch of the Conference on the Future of Europe in Strasbourg

“Since the beginning of the legislature, the Conference on the Future of Europe has been a priority for the European Parliament, which had requested it. Even before the pandemic, Parliament was convinced of the need to bring citizens closer to the European project, to involve them more and to develop together a vision for our common future.”

“As we are about to rebuild our economies and our societies on new foundations, and in view of the colossal investments that Europe will inject into public policies, it is even more crucial and urgent to listen to our fellow citizens, to feel their needs, their expectations in terms of assistance, jobs, dignity, security and prosperity, and their vision of this common European future. I believe it is our responsibility to put citizens at the centre of their European project, and the more we advance with integration, with this solidarity between states, the more important it will be for European citizens to be and feel committed to this project.” 

“We are at a time when citizens want to take responsibility, they want to have a say in the policies that affect their daily life, their future, the future of the planet. Citizen consultation mechanisms have been tested in many places and have proven their worth. It is time to open up to involve citizens more in public life, and that is the purpose of this conference.”

The President went on to speak on possible outcomes from the Conference, he said:

“I believe that we should reflect on how to strengthen the European Parliament's capacity and centrality, particularly as regards its power of initiative. Like any national parliament, the right of initiative should be conferred on the European Parliament so that our institution can make proposals to the Commission and the Council, and not just be the recipient. This would help give it a greater role.”

“We should also increase the transparency of our elections and allow citizens to indicate their preferences for the presidency of the Commission. I hope that the Conference will also address the question of the candidate leader, because I am convinced that this will contribute to the needs of citizens to be more involved in their European project and the better functioning of our institutions. Likewise, the issue of unanimity in the Council absolutely needs to be addressed.”

“And if all these reflections and those of our citizens involve an update of the Treaties, we are courageous, we must not be afraid of them, and in this process we continue to discuss with our citizens, our constituents, national and regional deputies, public opinion. Today we cannot afford to have taboos, we must face this exercise freely and confidently through democratic debate.”

“I am personally convinced that the awareness of our unity and a common destiny is shared by the majority of citizens and decision-makers. Let us overcome our differences and work together, while respecting our diversity, to lay the foundations for a new social, democratic and European contract. Let us make a stronger, more resilient, more democratic and more united Europe.”

The full speech is available here