Conference Observatory

Insights, in-depth analysis, Ideas Papers News Comments Conversations Recommendations

The Conference on the Future of Europe Front and centre

About Us

The Conference Observatory is a Joint Initiative set up by a consortium of Bertelsmann Stiftung, European Policy Centre, King Baudouin Foundation and Stiftung Mercator to study, assess and improve the Conference on the Future of Europe.


Dr. Dominik Hierlemann

Bertelsmann Stiftung
Senior Expert


European Policy Centre
Director of Studies


Comments, Insights and Recommendations

What should the Conference look like? What are the main obstacles to success? How can citizen participation be effective and meaningful? With our publications we shed light on the set-up of the Conference, its proceedings, and its policy discussions.

© Bertelsmann Stiftung

Next level EU citizen participation – Transnational Digital Dialogue with EU Commissioners Margrethe Vestager and Virginijus Sinkevičius

Over the course of three days, 100 people from Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Lithuania discussed how one might achieve a more democratic, greener and digital Europe. The EU Commissioners Margrethe Vestager and Virginijus Sinkevičius were not the only ones very impressed with the outcome. The publication on the Dialogue describes the deliberative, fully-online process and has a look at the participants’ proposals and their evaluation of the dialogue.

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The Conference on the Future of Europe: Mind the gaps!

‘The Conference on the Future of Europe: Mind the gaps!’, Corina Stratulat and Janis Emmanouilidis, 12/03/2021
The Conference is an experiment of inclusive reflection and renewal that could help our European democracies innovate, adapt and prosper. But to be successful, the Conference leadership must be mindful of six treacherous gaps in the Joint Declaration: the decision-making structure, the policy agenda, the national dimension, the link between citizens’ and representatives’ dimension, the feedback loop, and our strategic allies in the Balkans. Success is by no means a given, and time is too short to cover all bases. To give it their best shot at realising the potential of this initiative, the leaders of the Conference should mind these 6 treacherous gaps.

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The Conference on the Future of Europe: 3 stumbling blocks to the Joint Declaration

On 30 June 2020, the Presidents of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council officially kicked off the negotiations on a Joint Declaration for the Conference on the Future of Europe. Striking a compromise on some aspects will be harder than on others. The three institutions’ positions set forth over the past few months already overlap in some parts. Nonetheless, there are at least three key issues where they diverge profoundly, and consent will probably be hard-fought: (i) determining leadership; (ii) the question of treaty change; and (iii) the post-Conference follow-up. The positions of the Parliament and the Council are, in particular, diametrically opposed to each other on these issues, while the Commission is much more cautious.

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EventS & Multimedia

Past and future events, Conference Conversations, Reflections

In the interactive “Conference Conversations” our experts together with high-level guests talk about the latest developments in the Conference and discuss how the process can be improved. Find out more about our next events here. 

Conference Conversations 2 – The Process Behind the Conference

Based on questions posed by the audience during the inaugural edition of Conference Conversations, the second edition of this interactive online talk show discussed the underlying process behind the Conference.

What is the possible impact of the Conference on the Future of Europe? What questions about the democratic process in the EU will be raised?

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Conference Conversations 1 – Introduction to the Conference

The first edition of the Conference Observatory’s interactive online talk show, Conference Conversations, discussed the set-up, promise and hoped-for results of the Conference.

Does the Conference on the Future of Europe come at the right time and can it significantly influence the debate about the EU’s future? How can public awareness of its existence and results be increased?

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