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The Future of Europe at the beginning of the new 2019-2024 Institutional Cycle

The European Parliament elections in May 2019 launched a new five-year institutional cycle of the European Union for 2019-2024. The launch of the new cycle involved, in addition to the renewal of the composition of the European Parliament, the renewal the other main European institutions, starting with the European Commission and the Presidency of the European Council.

The new European Commission led by Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen has based its political guidelines on the priorities of the Strategic Agenda 2019-2024, which was approved by the European Council of 20-21 June 2019. In particular, the Commission has set its own working program on six major policy priority areas: a European Green Deal, a Europe fit for the Digital Age, an economy that works for people, a stronger Europe in the world, promoting our European way of life and a new push for European democracy.

In this context, the relaunch of discussions on the future of the European project is expected to find its highest expression in the Conference on the Future of Europe, a great pan-European and participatory exercise that would involve, over the course of two years, Member States, Institutions, National parliaments, citizens and civil society representatives. The Conference’s goal would to draw up concrete reform hypotheses and operational proposals to be implemented by the start of the next 2024-2029 institutional cycle, to give renewed momentum to the action of the Union, paying particular attention to the citizens’ demands.

Our Country has been among the first Member States to contribute to the the discussion, with a view to the launch of the Conference. In particular, on 19 February 2020 Italy published a position document that summarizes Italy’s position on the Conference. The document, presented by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, was submitted to the attention of the Presidents of the European Institutions and to all other EU partners. Compared to other similar national documents circulated so far, which focus on the procedural aspects of the Conference, the Italian document is the first to focus on the possible contents of the exercise, making concrete and ambitious proposals. It touches upon both specific proposals for institutional reforms, especially aimed at improving the democratic involvement of citizens and the efficiency of EU decision-making processes, as well as policy proposals, with particular attention to the economy, the environment and migration. The document’s proposals, especially those relating to the reform of the Economic and Monetary Union, remain relevant following the significant change in the European and international scenarios that occurred with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. With this initiative, Italy showed once again our Country’s resolve to contribute to the success of the Conference, in line with Italy’s traditional commitment to the European project.

Lastly, the Conference on the Future of Europe was discussed during the meeting of the Interministerial Committee for European Affairs (CIAE) held in Palazzo Chigi on 9 September 2020, chaired by the Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, and convened by the Minister for European Affairs, Vincenzo Amendola.