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Enthusiastic about the work done and measured optimism that the suggestions of European citizens will be taken seriously at the highest levels, & nbsp; the meeting of the last group of European citizens in the framework of the Conference on the Future of Europe ended on Sunday in Dublin. The group focused on the topics & nbsp; “Stronger economy, social justice and jobs/education, culture, youth, sport/digital transformation”. & Nbsp;
The 200 citizens randomly selected by the Member States & nbsp; resulted in 51 submissions, which were put to the vote. Of these, 48 & nbsp; received more than 70% of the vote as required and will & nbsp; be promoted to the plenary session of the Conference in Strasbourg in early March.
The four groups of 200 European citizens (including two Cypriots) met in Florence, Maastricht, Warsaw and Dublin to discuss the future they want for the EU. The three-day meeting, held on 25-27 February, took place in the shadow of the war in Ukraine. The Conference is the first of its kind: it is a major manifestation of democracy at pan-European level. It is a new public forum for open, inclusive and transparent dialogue with citizens on a range of key priorities and challenges.
Among the three recommendations that did not get the required number of votes and were therefore rejected is the suggestion that the EU set up a mechanism to ensure the monitoring and enforcement of minority rights. & Nbsp;
Proposals in the “Working in Europe” subgroup included proposals for the introduction of a single minimum wage to improve living conditions across Europe, a healthy work-life balance, harmonization of training programs to achieve European mobility at work , the access of adolescents as observers to the future labor market. Introducing the teaching of “soft” skills, such as encouraging dialogue, understanding, respect and critical thinking, was a point that was also suggested to the subgroup. In addition, it was proposed to introduce plans to be implemented in times of crisis, so as not to interrupt the educational process, as well as the regulation of the so-called “smart work” (telework).
The “Economy for the Future” subgroup proposed & nbsp; Europe's investment in innovation for the invention of new materials, as well as the innovative use of existing materials, the increase of sustainable energy sources, and the securing of the right of access to cheap energy. Furthermore, a greener production process was proposed, the abandonment of plastic packaging and the increase of reusable ones. It was also proposed to harmonize the tax system across Europe, to stop competition in taxation and tax evasion.
In addition, a proposal was made to promote reusable electronic devices & nbsp; and the right to repair and recycle them for greater sustainability. Citizens also proposed lifelong environmental education, as well as a common labeling system for consumer and food products. It was also suggested that infrastructure be considered an asset of the state, in order to prevent a monopoly on telecommunications and the internet. The right of access to the internet must be guaranteed, according to citizens. Finally, it was proposed to introduce biodiversity as a compulsory subject in schools.
The subgroup on “a just society” advocated uniform social policies and equal rights across Europe, promoting research on social and health issues. The European Union to apply minimum rules and retirement benefits throughout Europe, while the retirement limit to be set per occupational group. It was also suggested that measures be taken to encourage an increase in the birth rate, as well as appropriate care for children.
Emphasis was placed on caring for the elderly as well as supporting the people who care for them. It was also proposed to secure the right of access to palliative care and assisted death. In addition, access to decent social housing was proposed, as well as support measures for families with children, such as increasing the duration of maternity and paternity leave and related benefits. Furthermore, equal rights were proposed for all families, such as the right to marriage or adoption. It was also proposed to prioritize the gender equality strategy. Citizens also suggested promoting physical activity through all sectors.
In the subgroup for “learning in Europe” multilingualism was promoted from an early age, with C1 level certification in a second language through school. In addition, awareness of the dangers of the Internet and digitalization was proposed through a relevant school lesson. Citizens suggested that technology be made more accessible to older people. In addition, it was proposed to create a platform with educational material on climate change, sustainability and the environment.
Exchange programs accessible to all but also certification of minimum education in common core courses, to ensure that all citizens will have equal access to a standard quality of education, were some more suggestions. Finally, certified English language teaching was proposed throughout the EU, in order to facilitate and strengthen the possibility of effective communication.
The last subgroup concerned “an ethical and secure digital transformation”. It included proposals to give the EU more powers to tackle illegal content and cybercrime. In addition, citizens called on the EU to invest in high-quality and innovative digital infrastructure to ensure its autonomy in this area. Education on fake news, misinformation and internet safety has been proposed in Europe's schools.
Citizens also suggested further reducing data misuse through the imposition of the GDPR. It was also suggested that a European authority be set up to detect cybercrime and non-compliant GDPR organizations, as well as further information on the directive. A European certification system reflecting the compliance of organizations with the GDPR Directive, which must be visible on their website, was also proposed.
They also proposed tackling fake news through a social media companies to implement algorithms that provide the user with information that has been tested for accuracy. In addition, they proposed the creation of a digital platform to rate traditional media information. Finally, they proposed actions to ensure the healthy use of the Internet and to address the lack of infrastructure that prevents access to the Internet, as well as to promote the training of citizens in critical thinking and fact-checking, to be able to the information they receive is reliable.