Citizens' conference on the future of Europe must be followed by a referendum | Meer Democratie

Citizens' conference on the future of Europe must be followed by a referendum

Meer Democratie (More Democracy NL) has mixed feelings about the resolution adopted by the European Parliament last Wednesday on the organisation of the citizens' conference on the future of Europe to be held from May this year on. One of the good things is that it wants to invite individual citizens to these conferences. Among the bad thing is that a final referendum on the results of the conferences is not mentioned at all.

"Since the beginning of 2019, More Democracy NL and our European sister organizations have been campaigning under the heading ‘Now the Citizens’ for fundamental democratic reforms of the EU.  Citizens must be given the first and last word on this by means of drawn citizens' conferences in all EU member states and referendums on the results," says spokesman Niesco Dubbelboer of More Democracy NL.

"We are pleased that Commission President von der Leyen and the European Parliament have adopted important elements of our plan. But they sweep other crucial elements under the rug. We will continue to campaign for a truly citizen-friendly set-up of these conferences and for concluding referendums on the results”, says Dubbelboer.

Good elements 

In addition to the European Parliament's wish for the conferences to be made up of individual and randomly selected citizens from all demographic groups, we also welcome the fact that it wants the democratic aspects and institutional design of the EU to be part of the discussions. Positive is also  that it advocates the online participation of all those who wish to participate and that it wants to involve independent experts and NGOs in the design of the citizens' conferences. 

Bad elements 

Not good, however, is the fact that the Europarliament on the one hand advocates an open agenda without predetermined outcomes, but, on the other hand, prefers specific outcomes by refering to an 'ever closer Union' and advocates a discussion about transnational election lists and an extension of the Spitzencandidates process. The European Parliament also argues that citizens' conferences should lead to an EU with a greater capacity to act, which typically means more federalism and/or more power for the EU.

Downright bad is the fact that one key element of our plan, the closing referendum about the outcomes, is mentioned nowhere. Only a referendum ensures that all citizens will have the last word, and would also ensure that the input of citizens during  the conferences is taken much more seriously. 


Earlier we published a critical response to Von der Leyen's proposal for citizens' conferences. The resolution of the European Parliament of last Wednesday can be found here.