The report is based on contributions from citizens and will feed into EU Leaders' discussions on 13-14 December 2018. Since the start of the Juncker Commission, 160,000 citizens of all nationalities, ages, races, religions and from across the political spectrum have now taken part in over 1,200 town-hall style debates in city halls, universities, factories and other places all across the European Union. The message from citizens is resounding: Europeans want an active role in shaping the future of their Union.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "Debate and dialogue has been part of this Commission's work from day one. We launched a permanent dialogue with citizens, with my whole team of Commissioners covering every part of our Union to hear hopes, fears, expectations and new ideas. The feedback we got shows how keen Europeans are not only to speak their mind but to be involved in decision-making. Europe must become stronger and more united, but this is only possible if it becomes more democratic.”
The progress report shows that almost two thirds of Europeans say that they are optimistic about the future of the European Union, the highest level since 2009. Most citizens see Europe as key to solving the challenges we currently face including climate change, economic and social issues, migration and security. They perceive Europe as a continent of values, a peace project and an area of freedom and democracy where fundamental rights are respected.
Seventy-six percent of the population think that the EU is a place of stability in a troubled world and want to see both common foreign policy and common defence policy.
While many see the benefits of the euro (almost three quarters of the euro area population support Economic and Monetary Union), fears about price hikes or instability caused by rules not being followed persist. Europeans would like to see more harmonisation in areas such as environment and food safety. They want a dynamic economy and reforms to make the Union more efficient and transparent.
Today's interim report on the White Paper process will be presented to Member States at the December 2018 European Council. A final report will then be presented at the first EU27 Summit in Sibiu, Romania, on 9 May 2019, just a few weeks ahead of the European elections.
In the framework of the 2013 European Year of Citizens, the Commission launched its first ever Citizens' Dialogue to debate and exchange with citizens, as well as national and local politicians. These town hall type meetings devised and organised by the European Commission allow citizens from all backgrounds to debate, exchange and speak freely with those that serve them, from Commissioners to Members of the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions, or the European Economic and Social Committee, through to representatives of European, national, regional or local authorities.
In March 2017, the Commission launched a new debate on the future of the EU at 27, through the publication of a ‘White Paper on the Future of Europe'. To foster that debate, the Commission significantly increased the number of dialogues held. Members of the Commission have been travelling across Europe and listening to citizens' views on the different scenarios put forward, giving everyone a chance to contribute to shaping the Union.
In March 2018, 27 Member States approved a Joint Framework on Citizens' Consultations, complementing the Commission's work in this area. In order to support the process, the Commission launched a dedicated online consultation with questions designed by a European panel of citizens. The online consultation on the Future of Europe, has received over 75,000 contributions.
For more information