We want to hear about Europe our citizens are dreaming of, says von der Leyen about the upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe

“We want people to take the lead on issues that matter to them and affect their everyday lives. We want to hear about Europe our citizens are dreaming of,” said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, at the signing ceremony of a Joint Declaration on the Conference on the Future of Europe on 10 March.

The Declaration, signed together with the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli and Prime Minister of Portugal, António Costa, on behalf of the Presidency of the Council, sets a path towards opening a series of citizen-led debates. Together with an interactive digital platform, they will enable people from across Europe to share their ideas about Europe’s priorities and challenges, and help shape our common future.

President von der Leyen said the Conference would go beyond Brussels, and beyond national capitals, to reach as well the ‘silent majority’. “We want to hear from European citizens in their full diversity: From young and old, city dwellers and rural residents. From Erasmus students to those who took to the streets in the Pulse of Europe demonstrations. As well as from those who have their doubts – if ‘creating an ever closer Union’ is the right road to take,” she explained.

She described this initiative also in the context of the current coronavirus pandemic, saying that it was exactly in times like that when we saw how Europe works for its people and ‘where we have to get better’.

“The last months have shown what Europe can achieve if it has competences and the necessary means to act,” von der Leyen said. She highlighted in particular the NextGenerationEU and the EU budget as investments that will help Europe come out of the crisis more sustainable and more resilient.