On 9 May 2022, after a year of intense deliberations, the COFE came to a formal conclusion with 49 proposals, covering 326 suggested measures, put forward to the EU institutions. At the close of the proceedings, Guy Verhofstadt and others argued that a similar process should be repeated every five years to become a regular feature of EU democracy. Parallel to this, in June, a majority of European Parliamentarians voted in favour of a resolution calling for a Convention for the revision of the Treaties (art. 48, TEU) despite strong opposition from the Council.
There are similar signals from other EU institutions. In her summary of the COFE experiment, the EU Commission vice president in charge of deliberative democracy, Dubravka Suica, said: “Building on this success, the Commission will enable citizens’ panels to deliberate and make recommendations ahead of certain key proposals, as part of its wider policymaking. … As was the case in the conference, participants should be randomly selected. But they should also reflect Europe’s diversity and demography… The first of this new generation of Citizens’ Panels will be launched in the context of the 2022 state of the union address.”
As debate about the long-term legacy of COFE evolves, so too does our focus: in addition to analysing the merits and risks of an eventual Convention we are keeping a close eye on the citizens’ proposals themselves, with a view to tracking whether or not they are actually implemented. We are also maintaining close contact with panel members and ambassadors, following up on podcast interviews we recorded with participants last year and offering further process-based criticism regarding whether and how certain innovations that emerged during the Conference (e.g. the digital platform, and inter-institutional Plenary) might be developed in the future.