The Conference on the Future of Europe concludes its work. In a closing ceremony on the occasion of Europe Day, May 9, in Strasbourg, President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola, on behalf of the Council Presidency, President Emmanuel Macron, and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen received from the Co-Chairs of the Conference Executive Board the final report on the outcome of the Conference.
This unprecedented, one-year journey of discussion, debate and collaboration between citizens and politicians culminated in a report centred around 49 proposals that include concrete objectives and more than 320 measures for the EU institutions to follow up on under nine topics: climate change and the environment; health; a stronger economy, social justice and jobs; EU in the world; values and rights, rule of law, security; digital transformation; European democracy; migration; education, culture, youth and sport. The proposals are based on recommendations made by citizens who met within the European Citizens’ Panels, National Citizens’ Panels and contributed their ideas on the Multilingual Digital Platform.
Conference on the Future of Europe proposals for Culture:
With the objective to to promote a culture of exchange and foster European identity and European diversity across different areas, the final report suggest Member States to take the following measures:
1. Promote European exchanges in different fields, both physically and digitally, including educational exchanges, twinning, travel and professional mobility (including for teachers and local elected politicians). Such exchanges should be made accessible across Member States for all, regardless of their age, level of education, background and financial means. With this overall aim, the EU should inter alia strengthen existing EU level exchange and mobility programmes, such as the European Solidarity Corps, Erasmus+ and DiscoverEU, and ensure more widespread and diverse participation in these programmes and consider adding also new elements, such as an additional objective of civic service fostered through volunteering (for the European Solidarity Corps) and ‘cultural passes’ (for DiscoverEU) . The local and regional authorities, under the auspices of the Committee of the Regions have a key role to play in this matter .
2. Promote multilingualism as a bridge to other cultures from an early age . Minority and regional languages require additional protection, taking note of the Council of Europe Convention on Minority Languages and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities . The EU should consider setting up an institution promoting language diversity at the European level . From elementary school onwards, it should be mandatory that children reach competence in an active EU language other than their own to the highest possible level . In order to facilitate the ability of European citizens to communicate with wider groups of their fellow Europeans and as a factor of European cohesion, learning of the language of the immediate neighbouring EU Member States in cross border areas and reaching a certifiable standard in English should be encouraged by Member States .
3. Create opportunities to share European cultures, bring people together and move them towards a common European identity, for instance through events and gatherings involving all target groups and taking place in various locations. Some specific examples include holding World Art days a European Expo including educational events, or making Europe Day (9 May) a European public holiday for all EU citizens .
4. Protect European cultural heritage and culture, including through recognising local and regional cultural and production peculiarities, new initiatives to safeguard and celebrate it, mobility to promote cultural heritage exchange, and the promotion of existing measures such as Creative Europe, the New European Bauhaus, Sister City Programmes and European Capitals of Culture in line with the Sustainable Development Goals .
5. Take steps to ensure that cultural professionals are sufficiently protected at EU level, particularly in any future crises, by adopting a legal statute at European level .
Recommendations of the four European Citizens’ Panels
Recommendations adopted by the panel (to be taken forward to the plenary)
Citizens recommend promoting multilingualism from an early age, for example, starting in kindergarten. From elementary school onwards, it should be mandatory that children reach a C1 level in a second active EU language other than their own. We recommend this because multilingualism is a tool that connects people and is a bridge to other cultures, as it makes other countries and their cultures more accessible. It strengthens European identity and intercultural exchange. It is important to get to know the other cultures in the context of the European Union. Therefore, being able to converse in two languages at a great level would help create a common European identity and understanding of other European cultures. The EU must ensure that there is close cooperation between itself and educational institutions to develop successful educational outcomes. In addition, there needs to be a dedicated program (e.g. digital platforms, expanded Erasmus+ programs, etc.) to exclusively promote multilingualism.