The Conference on the Future of Europe: should Edgeryders get involved?

The three main European institutions – the Parliament, the Commission, and the Council – have rolled out a participatory initiative called the Conference on the Future of Europe (Wikipedia). It should run on two parallel tracks, feeding into each other: an online platform and a series of citizens’ assemblies. The former was launched in late April 2021.

The CFE had a bumpy start, with COVID-19 disrupting the 2020 activities. Now it seems back on track. It is too early to say whether it will really be the exercise in participatory democracy that it wants to be. But some noteworthy commentators, like Alberto Alemanno (normally quite critical with the European institutions), seem to believe in it: “this is not just another Brussels gimmick”.

Someone I know in the CFE secretariat sought us out: the Edgeryders community, he said, would be welcome and valuable in the discussion. There are two ways we could do that: individually, via the platform, and by organizing events under the aegis of the CFE. Their documentation lives on as part of the collective intelligence generated by the CFE’s process. Indeed, some of our events could do double duty, especially the EarthOS ones: I am thinking of @nadia’s remote work ones, and of those of the Sci-Fi Economics Lab.

Despite the disappointments of the COVID crisis, I remain – for now – a European patriot. So, I am personally going to give CFE a chance. I tried out the platform today, sharing an idea based on the experience of The Reef: you can find it here. What do people think about the idea of getting involved more as a community? Are people interested in leaving a small mark on the proceedings of the CFE?

I would like to ask this question to many people, but for now I will start with @hugi, @zelf and @pbihr.


Any idea why he thinks so?

My track is similar to yours @alberto. I think that if I was to engage, it would probably be to push the envelope on strengthening the conditions for civil society “hubs” like FdCM and Blivande. Some sort of track around that we need to rejuvenate and support civil society structures like these to be truly self-reliant decentralized support structures. We do this, probably, through a mix of legislation changes that make communal ownership easier, urban/rural development policies, taxation reform, easier access to banking and fintech services, and some start-up money available for fledgling initiatives that should completely circumvent the political situation in their given locality (city, region, nation).

  1. Larger investment of political capital
  2. Joint ownership of all three main institutions
  3. Sidestepped the legal/institutional angle (“do we need to revise the treaties? Do we want a federation?” etc.), that would have been paralyzing, and instead focused on concrete issues like mobility, privacy, education, health, closer to the interests of the citizen.

This is pretty visionary.

When I was working for government, we were very aware that external recognition can be extremely empowering for active agents in conservative social milieux. This supports your “give it a shot circumventing the local politics”.

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I think something around tools for coping/avoiding/being more resilient to the kind of epistemic closure we have seen during handling of crises . You, Marco Manca and Simona Ferlini were discussing this early on…

This ‘invitation’ is an opportunity. The choice to make, as Alberto wrote: “There are two ways we could do that: individually, via the platform, and by organizing events under the aegis of the CFE.” The criteria is what kind of post-event-benefits may be harvested for edgeryders to balance the effort (additional overhead).

p.s. How, @alberto many ‘good things’ would disappear if well-minded people walk away after some (here COVID) less-than-satsifying experiences?

p.p.s. The way-of-performing of the EU in the last 15 month facing the COVId-19 pandemic shows the state of relative integration. Whom to blame? Who should improve it? What alternative?


No argument.

Actually, here I was not referring to the EU. The pandemic has undermined my trust in human ability to adapt and respond. Governments performed dismally, at least in Europe. So did everyone else. By and large, the human community refused to adapt. For example, schools: as @lucasg has documented, pandemic flu preparedness plans had a solution to keep schools running: dissolve schools into “mini-schools” with 8-12 children, two adults and a computer, look for rooms and scatter across the city. This was not even discussed, because (mostly) teachers and school administrators could not envision it.

Another example: you take a tram in Brussels in April 2021 (partial lockdown, 14 months in) and windows are blocked and cannot be opened. We have known for a year that ventilation reduces infections. Why did STIB not deploy its maintenance people to unscrew windows from all buses and trams? It would be easy, immediate, useful and free. No need for large research investments or complicated implementation plans. But no, Belgium focused on a zero-impact COVID app, launched and immediately neglected, and the “big iron” vaccination campaign.

If we screwed up COVID, we are certainly going to screw up climate change.

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This was a cool idea I haven’t even heard of, what a missed opportunity…

Well, and isn’t this a possibile reason why nobody bothered? Public health is not as strong an incentive as public/private funds to respond to the emergency while making financial gains?

I hope, actually, I need you to be wrong on this one… :pensive:

I know. Same here.

But he isn’t wrong. It looks to me like as the climate worsens and polarities increase the likelihood of more dictatorial governments increases.