A greener Europe and better healthcare – recommendations from the Conference on the Future of Europe

An independent and randomly-selected panel of EU citizens has called for better climate protection and equal access to healthcare systems at the Conference on the Future of Europe. The recommendations, agreed last weekend, will be presented to politicians and decision-makers today. Greens/EFA MEPs, Eleonora Evi and Michèle Rivasi, ask that these demands be taken seriously.

EU citizens are being asked to help decide on the direction of the EU for the coming years in a project called the Conference on the Future of Europe (COFE).

A panel of 200 participants has clearly shown a marked desire for change. Many of their demands are in line with the issues that the Greens/EFA have been pushing for a long time. The EU must now deliver on the people’s demand for European democracy, climate protection and a better quality of life. Read on to find out what their demands are.

Farming and Food: We need a complete overhaul, European citizens say

The people at the Conference on the Future of Europe have asked for more small organic farms, more non-intensive farms and farms with short supply chains. Further, they are also in favour of more subsidies for organic farming and organic pesticides. They want a complete reversal of the EU’s current agriculture rules, known as the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The citizens at the conference made clear that they want food to be made locally and to be more affordable. They felt that current prices don’t reflect the low impact of local, sustainable, food on the environment. For the same reasons, the Greens/EFA made exactly the same proposals on sustainable agriculture during the last reform of the CAP.

People at the conference insisted that everyone in the EU should have the right to good, seasonal food in schools, and they called it “a question of social -justice”. They want food production to be a part of education. Governments should promote urban gardening and gardens in schools.

Energy Production: EU citizens want more renewables and less greenwashing

When it comes to energy, the people at the Conference on the Future of Europe have asked for more financial investment to explore new eco-friendly sources of energy. These recommendations come at a time when the European Commission is trying to label fossil gas and nuclear power as “green” by adding them to the EU’s list of sustainable investments in the so-called EU taxonomy. (Sign our petition against the greenwashing of gas and nuclear energy.) Jen, from Sweden, says:

My main goal from the beginning was to talk about as many topics as possible but due to time limits I chose energy. I was more pessimistic about the EU before I came to the Conference on the Future of Europe.
Jens, from Sweden

Biodiversity at the Conference on the Future of Europe: Bring our nature back!

The people involved in the Conference on the Future of Europe recommended that we promote and protect Europe’s biodiversity. This includes mammals, birds, insects and plants. They said we should extend today’s nature conservation areas and make sure the protections are better enforced.

Furthermore, the citizens recognised the urgent need to reverse the degradation of our nature and restore our ecosystems. They called for a special focus to be given to the restoration of exploited or destroyed forests and areas with degraded soil. These recommendations are especially important as the European Commission will publish a new proposal for nature restoration soon and we have high expectations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that we need to preserve the fragile balance between humanity and nature. When we destroy the natural habitats of wild species, this can become a dangerous vehicle for zoonotic viruses.

One of the best things we can do for nature is to reduce the number of polluting cars on our roads.  Augustus, from Latvia, suggests:

I would really like the EU’s cycling routes infrastructure to be improved so I could safely bike from Riga to Warsaw for example
Augustus, from Latvia

Healthcare is a priority: We need better access for all

The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us how important public health care is. It is no wonder that people are demanding better and equal access to health care across Europe.

People at the conference called for increased funding to the public health care system and more funding for research and innovation. They placed special focus on the need for better mental healthcare and sexual education.

Beyond an increase in research funding, or the establishment of a minimum wage for health care providers everywhere in Europe, European citizens also demand that private providers do not unfairly benefit from public funds and do not drain public health system resources. Therefore, a stronger public healthcare system also means better preparedness for future pandemics.

Just recently, the Greens/EFA managed to triple the EU funding to tackle cross-border health threats (such as the Corona pandemic) and for tools to strengthen our healthcare systems.

Sofia, from Spain, says:

One of the most important issues that has come up at the conference is access to health care for everyone. This means that no one should be denied access to health care because of the lack of resources
Sofia, from Spain

Let’s listen to the people at the Conference on the Future of Europe: The EU needs to step up and deliver

Citizens want better health care and a healthy environment. It is clear that the EU can and must do more to respond to these concerns.

The recommendations by EU citizens at the Conference on the Future of Europe confirms the trend in EU-wide opinion polls that people are in favour of consistent climate action. Their concern for the climate has been growing for years. Europe’s citizens are ready for a new start – in agriculture, energy, health and biodiversity.

We cannot let these proposals be ignored by the European Commission or be blocked by European governments. The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, must take the voices of European citizens seriously. She must follow up these proposals with concrete actions and legislation, not empty words.

The Conference on the Future of Europe should be the EU’s finest hour of democracy. The people have spoken. The European Commission now needs to show them that it’s listening.