The Conference on the future of Europe’s three problems

By Gianluca Sgueo

The Conference on the Future of Europe is a citizen-led series of debates and discussions where European citizens can share their ideas on, and shape the future of, Europe. The Conference currently presents three problems. The first consists of the low number of contributions collected via the online platform hosting of the consultation. The second problem lies in the actual impact of large-scale participatory initiatives, like the Conference itself. The third is a design problem, which concerns both the use of digital tools to foster participation and the viability and long-term sustainability of the «mini-audiences». There are many possible responses to these problems. The problem of numbers has no convincing solution. The second problem can be solved if technical arguments are complemented with political reflections. Finally, the solutions available to the third problem are premature. Taken together, these three issues raise serious concerns. What purpose do initiatives such as the Conference serve? Are these initiatives beneficial to the democratic systems within which they are promoted? What are, instead, the risks?