What is the Conference?
On March 10, David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament, Antònio Costa, Portuguese Prime Minister representing the European Council, and Ursula Von der Leyen, President of the European Commission met to sign the joint declaration on the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE). By launching a series of debates and discussions, this Conference offers the possibility for European citizens to share their ideas to help shape the future of Europe. 
The objective of the Conference is to give European citizens « a greater role in shaping EU policies and ambitions, improving the Union’s resilience to crises, be it economic or health-related. It will create a new public forum for an open, inclusive, transparent and structured debate with Europeans around the issues that matter to them and affect their everyday lives”. Among the possible themes for the Conference mentioned by the Joint Declaration are health, climate change, social equity, digital transformation, the role of the EU in the world and how to strengthen the democratic processes governing EU. 
Why a conference on the future of Europe?
In March 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron formulated the idea of this conference in an article published in several European newspapers. Listing the political difficulties faced by the EU during the last 10 years (among which the Greek crisis and the Brexit), the French Head of State stressed that “Never since the Second World War has Europe been so necessary. And yet, never has Europe been so in danger”. This conference gives European citizens the opportunity to have more influence on what the Union does and how it works for them and will help to strengthen the link between Europeans and the institutions which are at their service. In respect of European diversity, all Europeans, whoever and wherever they are, can participate.
“People need to be at the very centre of all our policies. My wish is therefore that all Europeans will actively contribute to the Conference on the Future of Europe and play a leading role in setting the European Union’s priorities. It is only together that we can build our Union of tomorrow.”
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission
Launched on May 9, on the occasion of Europe Day, the conference will give rise to a multitude of events and debates organized across the EU. In addition, a multilingual interactive digital platform has been set up and will be launched on April 19. Conclusions of the Conference, which are expected in spring 2022, will have to reflect the main proposals and questions of European citizens on different topics such as digital transitions, borders, health or other reforms. While certain demands should fall within the current field of European competence, others could require reform of the Treaties. Young people in particular are encouraged to participate and share their ideas. European, national, regional and local authorities, as well as civil society and other organizations, can also organize events, in order to involve as many citizens as possible.
European Youth Forum’s CoFoE – The 25 Percent project
In the same programme as Together Thursdays was applied for, the European Youth Forum applied for funding in a separate category. This funding pillar aims to support the European Parliaments’ Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) and engaging civil society and especially young people in envisioning the future of Europe. The Youth Forum has therefore engaged with different under represented youth through their organisations, among them they asked RYEurope to partner up, and we accepted.
The 25 Percent project aims to give space to youth voices who have not been heard before, inject in the Conference on the Future of Europe meaningful and actionable ideas, and empower young people from all walks of life to become active citizens.
15,000 ideas will be collected about the future of Europe which will be condensed into clusters and consolidated into a set of 15 proposals by the 150 young participants at the final international event. These proposals will be presented to the Conference on the Future of Europe and other decision makers.
The central idea of this initiative is to train young people on how to be active citizens and empower them to participate in democracy through an online toolkit and interactive workshops. Throughout the project we will gather ideas for the future of Europe and encourage young people to submit their ideas through the online platform.
This blog is part of the Together Thursdays project, co funded by the European Union.