Citizens in dialogue with the Union on the future of Europe

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For about a year, the European institutions challenged citizens to debate and present ideas for the old continent. The events of the Conference on the Future of Europe ended this Saturday, in Serralves, and was attended by the Mayor of Porto and the Prime-Minister. Now it will be up to the Parliament, the Council, and the European Commission to put into practice what is the will of the Europeans.

A Europe that is fairer, more supportive, more solid, more focused on citizens and stronger. More Europe. This is the future that thousands of citizens have chosen for a union of European Estates, after a set of debates and events as part of the Conference on the future of Europe.

“How good it is to believe in Europe”, said Rui Moreira. In charge of opening the session, the Mayor of Porto recalled the guilt of the politicians in a stage of greater “disaffection for Europe” but believes that the time that we are going through force us “to rethink what we want” for this “common house”.

“There are plenty of edges to be smoothed over, but if there is one thing we have learned (from the pandemic and the Russian invasion) it is that we will not be able to do it alone”, he believes, stressing the “urgency for Europe to think about itself and have a cohesive attitude again”. Rui Moreira left the message that “we must, with all patriotism, say that we are European and Portuguese. The one and the other are not incompatible”.

For the Mayor of Porto, it is important to value heritage and culture, “emphasize multiplicity”, be less dependent on other blocs, “build a Europe without veto power”. “This is the time of Europe, of a young, competent Europe, which looks at the planet as a finite thing, with respect for others, but without shame for what we are”, concluded Rui Moreira.

“Is Europe just this?”

In front of an audience made up mostly, of young people, the Prime Minister was ready to answer, directly and informally, to all questions. And the young people did not shy away from addressing issues that worry them the most: mental health, the difference in salaries between European countries, culture, solidarity between generations, climate changes and renewable energies, or even the review of the teaching.

The Prime Minister believes that “the bigger challenge is to transform this generation, which we already know is the most qualified, into the most accomplished”, and for that, he argues that work is about making the country and companies more competitive compared to their Europeans peers.

Receiving several questions about Europe’s role in the face of the invasion of Ukraine, António Costa says that “we all must fight for peace together. It is together that we must answer”. And he also left a question for the future of Europe in this context of war: “is Europe just this or can the European Union be more than this?”

Porto hosts forum on Social Rights

In Portugal, the initiatives of the Conference on the future of Europe were promoted by entities such as the National Assembly, The Economic and Social Council, the European Parliament in Portugal, the representation of the European Commission in Portugal, the National Association of Portuguese Municipalities and the National Youth Council, who also came to Porto to share their vision of this dynamic that sought to involve the whole of civil society.

The secretary of State for European Affairs, Tiago Antunes, also recalled the importance of the Social Summit that the city of Porto received in May the last year, which resulted in the Social Commitment of Porto, for the consolidation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. Tiago Antunes said that, starting in May, and every two years, the city will receive a forum for the balance of this agreed implementation.

On 9 May, Europe Day, Parliament, the Council, and the European Commission receive the report with the conclusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe. And it is up to the institutions to put into practice the will of Europeans.