& nbsp & nbspΓιώργος Σαββινίδης & nbsp; & nbsp;
The latest package of the Conference on the Future of Europe is being promoted to the highest levels of the EU. In the capital of Ireland, the curtain has fallen on a historic and unprecedented global process.
With the completion of the work of the last group of European citizens in the framework of the Conference on the Future of Europe, on 27 February in Dublin Castle, a historic process has come to an end. It is the first initiative on a European scale so close to the citizen, a bottom-up process. With anxiety, reflection but also many expectations for the Europe of the future, the 200 citizens gathered in the Irish capital worked on the multi-thematic “Stronger economy, social justice and employment, Education, culture, youth and sport, Digital transformation”./p>
Their conclusions were summarized in a set of 48 papers. To implement all this, the group of European citizens called as “weapons” the legislation, education, more European responsibilities, control services, funding, tax exemptions, sanctions.
Two Cypriots and four Greeks were among the 200 citizens randomly selected by the Member States and resulted in 51 submissions, which were put to a vote. Of these, 48 received more than 70% of the vote as required and were thus promoted to the plenary session of the Conference to be held in early March in Strasbourg. Twenty of those in Dublin will meet sixty more than the other three groups found in Florence, Warsaw and Maastricht in recent weeks, and a total of 80 will be represented by the Committees present at the plenary of the Conference. .
In March and April, three meetings will be held in Strasbourg of 80 citizens – 1/3 of whom will be between the ages of 16 and 25 – with national and MEPs. The other three groups dealt with “European Democracy/Values and Rights, Rule of Law, Security” (Florence), “Climate Change, Environment/Health” (Maastricht) and “The EU in the World/Migration” (Maastricht). The work of all four teams is supported by experts and academics. & Nbsp;
The final plenary proposals will be presented in May to the Executive Board of the Conference, which is co-chaired by Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt, Deputy Foreign Minister for the French Presidency of the EU Council Clement Bonn and the Croatian Vice-President for the European Commission and Demography, Dubravka Suitsa. The Executive Board will then draw up and publish the conclusions of the Conference Plenary and present the final outcome of the Conference in a report to the Joint Presidency of the three EU institutions.
That is why the Conference on the Future of Europe is considered to be a unique and timely initiative in the world that aims to give citizens the confidence that they are participating in a process close to the standards of direct democracy. European citizens of all ages, from all walks of life and all corners of the Union, are involved in shaping the future of the European venture.
However, these meetings highlighted the differences in the policies pursued by each country and consequently the different priorities put forward by each citizen-delegate. Southern countries such as Italy, Greece, and Cyprus, for example, have shown greater interest in labor, transparency, social policy and social justice, while all have agreed on economic uncertainty, the digital future, gender equality and human rights. & nbsp;
At the meetings of each subgroup, each member submitted their suggestions and comments in their mother tongue and through a personal tablet, they were automatically translated into the 27 EU languages, so that everyone could express themselves freely and exchange views and experiences immediately. Another difficulty faced by the delegates, who were chosen “randomly” & nbsp; was to summarize their numerous positions in order to take the form of concrete and reasoned proposals, an effort that was reflected in the 48 recommendations.
The citizens worked with enthusiasm but also with restrained optimism that their suggestions will be taken seriously at the highest levels. They agreed, however, that this process must be kept alive and feed the European institutions with the dynamics of societies. Provided that the Union institutions will live up to their commitments and build on the recommendations and vision of the basis for a Europe of the future.
Work in Dublin, as well as those in the coming weeks in Strasbourg, take place in the shadow of the war in Ukraine. The majority of the delegates expressed their support for Ukraine.
The experiences of the citizens of Cyprus and Greece & nbsp;
Members of the Greek and Cypriot delegation of European citizens who took part in the Conference spoke about how they experienced the experience.
From left: Vaios Pantoulas, Kalliopi & nbsp; Mavrommati, & nbsp; Sofia Kalogirou, Stefani Irakleous, Aristidis Gairos, against the backdrop of Dublin Castle. & Nbsp;
Tryfon Andreou, 63, Limassol: “It is a unique experience to know Europeans so closely at the level of citizens and to work with them. Citizens are seriously concerned about all matters concerning their lives. Productive discussions have taken place and serious proposals have emerged. The question is how and to what extent they will be taken into account and whether we will dare to build a new, people-centered Europe. There is a gap between how the common people want Europe and how the 'heads' dream. Until today, the voice of the citizen has never been heard in practice. We put the ingredients, we prepared the soup, but the fire must be lit by the EU. It is clear that being friendly and understanding with each other has never been a problem. What we have seen in practice here is that there is a Europe of two and three gears. We have proposed issues that other European citizens enjoy and have solved for decades. “
Stefani Irakleous, 21, Nicosia : “I had the opportunity to learn first hand what is happening and applies in other countries and in Cyprus. I feel more informed and maybe optimistic about the future. Europe can offer job security. If what we have said is heard, I believe that in the near future things will be much better. The EU shows that after the Brexit affair it wants to listen to its citizens, to listen to their vision for Europe to see what went wrong and what they can change “.
Kalliopi Mavrommati, 49, Agios Nikolaos, Crete : “As an experience it was awesome. But there is skepticism as to whether all of this will not have the proper outcome and acceptance from the EU institutions. war in Europe and you watch it without actually doing & nbsp; something. The EU should be an equal alliance of powerful states. & Nbsp; However, a first step has been taken and if the next steps are appropriate, if the follow-up is proportionate, then it may work. Finally, the ordinary European citizen has a voice and is not elected according to his ideology and his participation in parties “. & Nbsp;
Vaios Pantoulas, 42, Heraklion, Crete “The main benefit we have gained is the realization that we can come from many different countries with different living standards, but the problems are almost the same. Before I came I knew, so in general, that e.g. the Germans are doing better than us. However, I learned that, especially in the German countryside, there are similar difficulties in everyday life. “& Nbsp;
Σοφία Καλογήρου, 23 , Αθήνα “We realized that we are not the only ones with problems. Each country has its own. I was more concerned with digital transformation and fake news and we had the opportunity to develop some ideas on how we manage the challenges of the time. I do not know how many of our suggestions will be put into practice, but if they are made slowly, Europe will go one step further. This process should have been instituted years ago “.
Aristidis Gairos, 21, Thessaloniki “Younger citizens are given the opportunity to feel that they also count. Europe also advocates democracy as Greeks, who have a special knowledge of where it came from, etc. we felt in a way as if we had returned to the direct democracy of Ancient Athens, in a peculiar form. For the first time, Europe is somehow implementing direct democracy within its institutions. An apolitical view has been established in the people of the new generation. Young people are more concerned with simpler issues in their daily lives and do not realize that turning your back on decisions that concern you is a boomerang. But you can not force an entire generation to engage with the public. “It must be understood that their daily lives depend on the decision-making centers and that what happens in the EU institutions has a direct impact on their lives. & Nbsp; And the slightest change is a significant step forward.” The 48 recommendations
The 48 recommendations to the representatives of the European institutions concern the competitiveness of the European economy and the need to safeguard jobs, social justice – which requires the convergence of Member States' policies and within Member States in many areas – the new digital environment with opportunities, dangers and, above all, the right of all to digital education, the demographic climate, a parameter that is recommended to go through the whole range of the production and consumption process. & nbsp;
Concerns about securing work and a decent standard of living are highlighted in many proposals. One of them concerns the minimum wage and another the minimum income. Although there is a relevant European Directive, it is recommended to have a European control for its observance, while for its determination the cost of living and the purchase value in each Member State should be taken into account. The work calls for a regulatory framework for “smart” distance, online work to ensure quality jobs.
Recommendations on tax harmonization in the EU are also aimed at protecting employment, so that tax havens outside and inside the EU disappear and colossal companies pay no less than the small and medium-sized companies that make up the vast majority of European companies./p>
It is also recommended to recognize at European level the vocational training certificates obtained in the Member States, while from the school desks to make the first acquaintance with the labor market with a form of subsidized vocational apprenticeship. European citizens, however, recommend that work life be balanced with personal life.
Of great interest and concern is the internet, various aspects of which are included in many of its recommendations, one of which calls for the telecommunications infrastructure and the internet to be brought under the control of state authorities rather than monopolies. Reliable and fast connection is required, digital training for everyone and especially for education, so that the digital transformation is done in a fair way.
Other recommendations state that digital transformation must be “safe” and “ethical” and calls on the EU to increase its responsibilities for illegal content and cybercrime by funding programs, calling for tougher sanctions in all Member States and strengthening capacity. of Europol.
The participants were particularly concerned about the fake news, for which early school education, legislation and a digital platform are proposed to verify the proper operation of the algorithms. Equally worrying is the violation of personal data and the GDPR regulation which needs to be improved to make its operation more understandable.
The need to encourage in education skills such as the need for dialogue, critical thinking, the search for verification, elements that will empower children and later adults – and citizens – not only at work but also in recognizing what is false news, was also pointed out. without having to ask for help from third parties, individuals or institutions.
To strengthen social cohesion, a basic education program is proposed that will be recognized throughout the EU, as well as cultural and social exchanges in all countries. Multilingualism and the learning of English as a basic subject are also supported by the Primary School with the idea that it will increase the citizens' possibilities for communication and will strengthen the European identity.
Europe is also called upon to encourage fertility by increasing childcare services, with tax incentives for baby products, but also with incentives for social housing and stable employment. It is also recommended to promote social policy with more responsibilities in the EU both in the field of health and for the protection of vulnerable groups. Special mention is also made of older people who are increasing in percentage compared to young people in the EU and need to ensure a decent life, both with help at home and online training, but also with the possibility of continuing their working life when possible. Priorities mention the need to promote equality of women who are lagging behind in wages and labor development, but also the need for equal treatment of minorities. It is also recommended that the EU guarantee equal family rights in all Member States, including marriage and adoption.
Mission to Dublin: George Savvinidis