Bloc party: Europeans invited to debate the future EU

France 24, 10.03.2021

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The EU launched a huge consultation on the future of what is still called the European "project" Wednesday, hoping to move the debate beyond Brussels and across the continent. [...]

The set-up has already been derided by some sceptics as a talking shop, but others argue that it is time for Europe to step back and think about its post-pandemic direction.

"There is a need to talk very frankly about the future of Europe," said analyst Janis Emmanouilidis of the European Policy Centre.

The conference, he suggested, would keep pressure on the member states to follow through on the EU's plans for a green recovery and a digital economic transformation.

But the greatest dangers, he warned, would be if the conference disappoints the public and if member states do not drive national debates to feed into the Brussels discussions.

"If they feel that the Conference is a fig leaf, just pretending to have a discussion which in the end won't lead to concrete results, there is a danger that people will get frustrated -- citizens but also organised civil society," he said. [...]

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