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Press Office

Strasbourg, 11 March 2022

4th Plenary of Conference on the Future of Europe

Under the heavy shadow of the war in Ukraine, the 4th Plenary Session of the Conference on the Future of Europe commenced yesterday, with the meeting of representatives of national parliaments, who stressed that the latest developments make it imperative for the European Union to proceed swiftly to a single security and defence policy, but also ensure energy self-sufficiency. Another central theme was the strengthening of European values ​​and the need for firm commitment to the rule of law.

In his speech, George Papandreou, member of the Conference, noted the need for the role of the European Union to be expanded and strengthened for peacekeeping purposes in Europe, but also for rendering a human face to globalisation and deepening democracy in its neighbourhood, and ensuring energy, security, health and food autonomy and sufficiency. He concluded by reiterating our duty to defend the principles and values ​​of the Union and show solidarity to the Ukrainian people.

Work continued today with Working Groups meetings and the Plenary Session. The meeting of the Working Group on Migration was attended -via teleconference- by the former Chair and current Co-Chair of the Group, Dimitris Karidis.

In his speech, Mr Kairidis stressed the work progress that has been achieved since the beginning of the initiative and expressed his optimism for tangible and substantial results at the end of the work. Referring to current events in Ukraine, he noted their direct association with the issue of migration and the need for Europe to show more unity and strength. The current refugee crisis is the biggest that Europe has experienced in its post-war history, said Mr Kairidis, emphasising that although we are at a critical crossroads, this time , Europe exhibits unity and solidarity in contrast to what happened during the 2015 refugee crisis. In this respect, he highlighted the case of countries such as Poland and Hungary, which back in 2015 exhibited a negative attitude against the refugee crisis and the distribution of responsibilities to the front-line countries, namely the southern countries, but now, being in the front line and hosting refugees from Ukraine, they are calling for solidarity and burden sharing. The problem is common and, therefore, common solutions are needed.

Referring to the issue of legal migration, Mr Kairidis praised citizens’ exemplary work and recommendations, also commenting on the need to open legal channels, the need to raise awareness and the variety of possibilities offered to both immigrants and European citizens.With regard to irregular migration, he stressed the non-negotiable importance of human rights, the disproportionate weight of flows calling for solidarity, and the need for action in the migrants’ countries of origin , always in a "more for more" approach. Regarding asylum, Mr Karidis stressed the need to frame a common European policy and a common European asylum system.

The Plenary session began today with a minute of silence in memory of the Ukrainian invasion victims. In his introductory remarks, the European Parliament representative and Co-Chair of the Conference Guy Verhofstad, stated that a part of Europe is being dragged into the past making our worst fears come true, and that Ukraine is vigourously fighting to defend the fundamental values ​​of the European Union.

Mr George Papandreou also represented the Hellenic Parliament at the debate on youth, education and culture. Referring to European schools, he said that even though they produce labour market associated skills, their utility is challenged by the labour market ambiguity in the coming years. Mr Papandreou also spoke about the need for schools to support young people in various fields, such as dealing with the continuous crises of recent years, dealing with authoritarianism and fake news, building a European identity, cultivating critical thinking and encouraging democratic participation, and training in the use of new technologies. He concluded by saying that although Europe has no direct powers with respect to education, it should invest in it, also stressing the need for ensuring the multilingual digital platform’s smooth operation in order to present the views and ideas of our youth.




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