#TheFutureIsYours Strengthening European democracy
Conference on the Future of Europe in Ireland (Leinster)
We are pleased to invite you to join us at a unique opportunity to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing Europe, as part of the Conference on the Future of Europe process taking place across the EU. We want you to take part in a panel of citizens to explore your thoughts on what the EU does well, what it should do, and what it needs to do better, in order to increase its capacity to act and to make it more democratic. After a short introduction, we’ll discuss these issues in small, moderated groups, before we come back together to explore our ideas together and put forward a vision for the EU’s future. For us to identify with the EU, we need to see ourselves in Europe - in the people who make up the institutions, in the decisions taken and in the impacts on our daily lives. We want to speak to a diverse, representative cross section of Irish society and feed their ideas into the greater European discussion, so your participation is crucial. These events will take place over Zoom and will be streamed live on our YouTube channel. We look forward to seeing you there, to take part in this important event. To register, please email email@example.com
Event reportLeinster Online Panel: Conference on the Future of Europe in Ireland. On Thursday, 17 June, representatives from Leinster who work in the areas of education, mental health, the environment and organisations working with people with disabilities among others, met online as part of the Conference on the Future of Europe. Key issues discussed by participants for the future of Ireland and the EU included climate change, the digital transformation, health care and the economy. Climate Change: In the area of climate change, the people of Leinster felt that better communication and education is needed to encourage a successful and just transition. Participants suggested that more education is needed within the EU to ensure people understand the threat posed by climate change, but that the EU also needs to communicate this urgent message better on a world stage. This was followed by calls for more openness about the cost of taking action to tackle climate change, suggesting that more supports are needed for the sectors that will be impacted the most by such measures, such as the agriculture sector. Digital Transformation: Participants called for EU-wide support to assist with a just digital transformation and ensure that nobody is left behind. Contributors would like to see the EU offer more support when it comes to training courses for lifelong learning as older people in particular may need to regularly upskill. Similarly, as many people have moved to remote working across the EU due to the pandemic, participants called for EU-wide support for new ways of working that encourage a positive work life balance. All of this, they added, is dependent on a reliable and efficient broadband connection being rolled out across the EU. Health: Two key areas that dominated the discussion on health were Covid-19 and mental health. The group felt that Member States could benefit from continued cooperation by conducting more research and by sharing findings and best practices. While overall, participants thought the EU’s short-term response to Covid-19 was fair and necessary, they concluded that a long-term, holistic conversation needs to happen within the EU about prevention, equity and solidarity. Participants felt that the EU should play a bigger role when it comes to mental health and by association, social media. They suggested that social media platforms need to be held accountable for accommodating the spread of hate speech and misinformation and that the EU could create a standardised education about the impacts of social media. Economy and Rule of Law: Participants highlighted the discrepancy between different Member States’ economies and called for the EU to set out a framework for living wages to be applied across the EU. Contributors felt that the EU has the ability and duty to implement the harsh but necessary decisions and policies that nationally elected governments find difficult to deliver. This sentiment was also linked with discussions about fundamental human rights and the rule of law, as the people of Leinster felt that the EU needs to act to protect EU citizens’ rights and “be intolerant of intolerance”. Education: Finally, noting that Ireland now has the highest fees for undergraduate students in the EU, participants welcomed Ireland’s involvement in the European University Association. They called for the EU to set common principles and standards to ensure education is accessible and of high quality across the Union. Contribution from Minister of State for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne TD: Speaking about the meeting, and the Conference on the Future of Europe, Minister of State for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne TD said, “The Conference on the Future of Europe is an unprecedented, valuable and still evolving opportunity for citizens all over Europe to make their voices heard about the future direction of our Union. Ireland has always been a very strong advocate for citizen engagement within the EU, and this opportunity for real and active citizen led discussion will be no different. The Conference should play an important role in allowing us to review where we are as a Union of 450 million people, where we want to go and Ireland’s place in it. The Conference on the Future of Europe will be the voice of the people, setting out our vision of Europe for the next generation”. Summary: Those who participated in the Leinster Online Panel felt that we must focus on the human impact of how the EU develop and that a holistic approach is needed going forward. At the heart of these calls was a support for strong communication between Member States at all levels. Contributors called on Member States to take advantage of our unique union by sharing knowledge and best practices among one another to improve the lives of all EU citizens. This panel discussion was organised by European Movement Ireland supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs as part of a series of similar such events being organised around the country as part of the Conference on the Future of Europe. This meeting will be amalgamated with similar panels over the next number of weeks to create a comprehensive proposal which will be added to this site in due course.
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