Parliament’s entire delegation of 108 members will meet prior to the inaugural plenary session of the Conference, which has been set for 19 June in Strasbourg, with both physical and remote participation.
In addition to the EPP and S&D groups, Renew Europe will have 15 members in the plenary, the Greens/EFA 11 members, while the ID group has also been allocated 11 seats.
The ECR group will have nine deputies on the Conference plenary, The Left has six and non-attached members total five.
The Conference plenary will also be composed of 54 members from the Council (two per Member State) and three from the European Commission, as well as 108 representatives from all national parliaments.
There will be 18 representatives from both the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee and another eight from both social partners and civil society will also take part.
Josep Borrell, a former Spanish MEP and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, will be invited for discussions relating to the international role of the EU.
Representatives of what are called “key” stakeholders may also be invited.
Despite some initial concerns to the contrary, the Conference plenary will be gender balanced, according to a Parliament spokesman.
“To succeed, the Conference must focus on bottom-up engagement. We must reach out to the person in the street in each and every corner of the EU to listen to what they have to say. We must engage equally with those already convinced and with those who are hesitant about the Union”
Christa Schweng, EESC President
One of the aims of the plenary is to discuss ideas stemming from the citizens’ panels and also the Commission’s online ‘Multilingual Digital Platform’ which will allow people to participate virtually.
Organisers have stressed the importance of young people taking part in the proceedings and there will also be 80 representatives from the European Citizens’ Panels, of which at least one third will be younger than 25.
The Conference, which aims to come up with proposals for major reform of the EU, should have started last year but was delayed, first by inter-institutional wrangling and then the COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking ahead to the much-awaited launch of the Conference this week, EESC President Christa Schweng said, “To succeed, the Conference must focus on bottom-up engagement. We must reach out to the person in the street in each and every corner of the EU to listen to what they have to say.”
“We must engage equally with those already convinced and with those who are hesitant about the Union.”
She added, “The EESC will keep actively contributing to the Conference – through our events and by mobilising civil society organisations throughout Europe. We hope that our voice will be heard loud and clear. If we really want to bring the European project back to citizens, civil society should be in the driving seat.”
Further comment came from another EESC member, Tiziano Treu, the president of the Italian National Economic and Social Committee (CNEL), who said that the role of the Conference was to outline a new European governance, which “needs to be simplified and made more effective and must include proper rules to ensure the involvement of organised civil society.”