Exclusive Interview with MEP Jordi Solé: Conference on the Future of Europe

The Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) is expected to come to an end by spring 2022. Half-way through this deliberative democracy exercise, there are still questions and uncertainty regarding what the final outcome will be.

VoteWatch Europe has carried out several interviews as part of a series of materials about the Conference, covering the insights of MEPs who are members of the Delegation to the conference and have an insider perspective, you can find all the available interviews here .

Most recently, MEP Jordi Solé (Greens/EFA), has also shared his perception and expectations with us as a member of the delegation to the Conference.

Votewatch: Before the conferences and debates began, there were some worries as to whether the results of the CoFoE would live up to the expectations. As a member of the delegation and having an insider perspective, do you share this concern or are you more optimistic?

Jordi Solé: It is too early to say, I would not throw the towel of optimism this early. The real work of the Conference only started to take off very slowly, after a lengthy negotiation between the institutional stakeholders. We hope in the coming weeks and especially after the Christmas break the speed of work will win pace and we can start coming up with concrete proposals and try to find the firsts agreements. We hope we can reach an ambitious document of conclusions and that EU institutions will take our recommendations seriously.

Votewatch: CoFoE is expected to end by spring 2022. Earlier this year the Greens/EFA expressed their concern that “limiting the conference to a 12 month process would ensure that it cannot succeed” and that it “should be allowed to take the necessary time to deliver results, while ensuring that there are concrete outcomes”. From your point of view, do you reckon it should be extended?

Jordi Solé: Yes, it should. The new wave of Covid has also impacted our schedule, the upcoming plenary had to be postponed. I think it is becoming clear to everyone that we will need more time to work, debate and find agreements. Expanding the CoFoE would indeed ensure that there are the concrete outcomes we want to see.

Votewatch: The European Parliament Youth Survey 2021 revealed that “a majority of respondents feel they don’t have much, or any, say over important decisions, laws and policies affecting them”. Do you think this perception will change after the CoFoE comes to an end?

Jordi Solé: This conference is innovative in the sense that it allows for direct citizen participation both through the digital platform and through the citizens panels. This is all welcome since it gives new chances for citizens to participate and be heard. That is why it is so important that the final document takes on board citizens recommendations, at least those with more support. And to prevent further frustration and detachment from citizens, in fact, the EU institutions should take the compromise to follow up on citizens recommendations, and on whether a reform of the Treaties is needed or not.

Votewatch: The CoFoE uses a Digital platform as a hub for citizens from all over Europe to submit their ideas for different topics. “Climate Change and the Environment” is the most discussed topic in the platform, with more than 2,000 idea submissions. Do you think the CoFoE will lead to more environmentally friendly policies in the EU?

Jordi Solé: The EU is already taking climate change quite seriously and in the last months many legislative proposals are being worked on. Regarding climate change, Europe has to show the way and lead by example. But we, in the Parliament, as Greens/EFA are struggling so that these proposals are really ambitious and live up to the goals of the Paris Agreement and the Green Deal. But of course the Digital Platform again shows that climate issues are one of the main public concerns. Our recommendations have to live up to this.

Votewatch: You are one of the many signatories of the joint declaration of the UEF – Spinelli Group, where the CoFoE is mentioned as “an event […] to debate and decide how to go about adapting our institutions in a way that will complete the building of our federal Europe”. Being half-way now, do you think this event will bring Europe a step closer to this federal project?

Jordi Solé: I am afraid the current political majorities in the EU do not leave space for an ambitious reform towards a more federal Europe, that I would like to see myself. A Europe of people, and not a club of states. Nevertheless, the EU has always increased its say by small steps. If this was the case with the Conference, we could see it as a success.

To read more exclusive interviews with other EU Professionals and MEPs, click here.

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