“The Conference on the Future of Europe is our opportunity to frankly and openly admit that nobody thinks the way we used to anymore and that new times call for greater resolve”, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa said at the opening ceremony of the Conference.
On Europe Day, 71 years after the Declaration from Robert Schuman, the founding act of what would become the European Union, António Costa recalled that “we started with coal and steel”, but now “we have to start again with green and digital, the drivers of our recovery plans”. However, the Prime Minister stressed that the future of Europe must not forget “the fundamental values of freedom, of democracy and of human, civil, economic and social rights”.
Speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on behalf of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU, António Costa argued that “more than being mere onlookers, we must be the architects of this change”. Therefore, he continued, the Conference on the Future of Europe must have the involvement of all “councils and local authorities” in the 27 Member States, through “decentralised discussions and the participation of citizens”, as well as the mechanisms for digital participation launched in April.
Also taking part in the ceremony were the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of France, Emmanuel Macron.