palacio119_ Elyxandro CegarraAnadolu Agency via Getty Images_macron Elyxandro Cegarra?Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The EU Is Still Flying Blind

Given strong public support for the Conference on the Future of Europe, failure to make at least some strides toward developing a shared European vision would amount to a major missed opportunity. Worse, it would discourage those who, for better or for worse, have allowed their expectations to be raised.

MADRID – The much-anticipated Conference on the Future of Europe has begun. Announced by the European Commission and the European Parliament at the end of 2019, the conference is billed as “a citizen-led series of debates and discussions that will enable people from across Europe to share their ideas and help shape our common future.” It is unlikely to deliver.

I would like nothing more than for the conference to produce a shared vision of Europe’s future, strengthening the European Union’s foundations and dampening the siren song of populism. But consider this: the conference was nearly canceled before it began, owing to organizational challenges, many arising from institutional wrangling. How can the EU be expected to articulate a shared vision, shaped by the voices of its people, if it can barely even introduce a platform for discussion?

Ultimately, European institutions completed their negotiations – after sparring over everything from the conference president’s institutional affiliation to the entity that would channel the discussion into final proposals – and the event was salvaged. Yet, watching the proceedings so far, one would hardly know that its purpose is to restore the democratic bond between the EU and its citizens.

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