The Brief, powered by VDMA – Facebook 2.0 for the Future of Europe?

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter. [EPA/SIMELA PANTZARTZI]

Key EU officials presented today (19 April) a multilingual digital platform for the Conference on the Future of Europe, a massive event that will be launched officially on Europe Day (or should we say Saint Schuman Day) on 9 May.

The idea is to invite – and give a tool to – all EU citizens to contribute to shaping their own future and that of Europe as a whole.

It’s not a bad idea. It’s time the EU citizens’ voice also played a role when considering what kind of a Union we want. In the past, this was the prerogative of EU leaders, and of a select group of “wise men” (and women).

This digital platform – as described by Commission Vice President Dubravka Šuica, the European Parliament’s chair for the Conference, Guy Verhofstadt, and the Portuguese State Secretary for European Affairs, Ana Paula Zacarias – looks very much like Facebook, with some improvements.

The main similarity with the social platform familiar to us is that, after creating an account, the users will be able to like, endorse ideas, interact, see events live and create events.

The main improvement is that the platform will be available in 24 languages with “immediate translation” (albeit machine-generated), that the users will have to subscribe to a charter, and that there will be moderation, apparently necessary to make sure it doesn’t get hijacked by foreign actors.

Hopefully, good ideas won’t get lost as all submissions and event outcomes will be collected, analysed, monitored, and made publicly available.

There will be no geo-blocking, therefore, EU citizens should be able to participate no matter where on the planet they happen to be located.

Citizens from outside the EU, apparently, should not be able to register (unless they try to trick the system), which is a little bit unfair to the countries on their way to EU accession, notably those in the Western Balkans. After all, the future of Europe is also about its future dimensions.

Of course, a project like this can go in all directions. As Šuica said, whoever wants to organise an event, “be it at living room level, it could be branded as Future of Europe”.


“So I start a revolution from my bed”.

Before Oasis, John and Yoko attempted it in the Amsterdam Hilton. Without the branding.

Will it work this time? This Brief author likes the originals and doubts the copycats.

Why was Facebook successful? Possibly because of the motivation of its inventor.

Mark Zuckerberg wanted to know what was up with a former girlfriend he was still fond of. That’s why he created a student platform –  because he was interested in the posts of ONE potential user. That was an enormous and genuine motivation and, as we know, the platform has gone on to become hugely successful and has billions of subscribers.

With this Conference, it’s the other way round, the motivation apparently is overambitious, it’s about finding out what’s up with the millions of us, and making sense of it. A rather pretentious motivation.

But let’s give it a try…

A message from VDMA: How SMEs can contribute to due diligence in value chains. The mechanical engineering industry in Europe fully supports the goal of protecting human rights. However, the upcoming EU legislation on due diligence must be manageable, and it must consider the limitations of small and medium-sized enterprises in particular. Read more.

The Roundup

The rapid EU-wide loss of family and small-scale farms is in part due to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the EU’s agricultural Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski has said, pointing to the policy’s “errors and mistakes”.

The popular image of the classic Brexit voter as “a poorly educated inhabitant of a faded seaside town or the grim, post-industrial north” of England has been shown as wildly inaccurate according to new research on so-called “Comfortable Leavers” published on Monday.

The hard line defended by France over the inclusion of nuclear power in the green finance taxonomy is a dead end because there is no majority in favour of it at the EU level, lawmaker Pascal Canfin warned in an interview.

Top EU officials launched on Monday (19 April) a multilingual digital platform of the Conference on the Future of Europe, a year-long democracy exercise meant to involve Europeans in shaping the future direction of the bloc.

Germany’s Greens have put forward their co-leader Annalena Baerbock as their candidate for federal elections in September in the party’s first bid to win the chancellery since it was founded 40 years ago.

Look out for…

  • EP’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs votes on preventing dissemination of terrorist content online;
  • Informal video conference of European affairs minister.

Views are the author’s

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic/Benjamin Fox]

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