Workplace Europe: Mind the Gap!

How can regions and their institutions claim a seat at the table of the Conference on the Future of Europe?

1 July (9:00 – 13:30) 

On 9 May, Europe Day, EU leaders launched the long-awaited Conference on the Future of Europe. While some fear that the Conference might turn into another unproductive EU talking shop, others believe that it signifies a promising EU-wide exercise in citizen consultation. At least there is one thing both camps seem to agree on: the ever-closer union faces a gap that needs to be bridged urgently.   

Workplace Europe: Mind the Gap explicitly intends to provide an alternative for those who wish not to join the trenches of this debate. Instead, it will present a forum to discuss what has led to the creation of an EU-wide consultation platform in the first place. It will discuss the gap(s) that the Conference on the Future of Europe aspires - and needs - to address, to then discuss how regions and their institutions can bridge these gaps. 

In so doing, this Workplace Europe aims to empower regions and institutions to claim a seat at the table of the Conference as these are vital actors within and across the domains of academia, policy and civil society. Representatives of these spheres will discuss how to 'mind' and anticipate the gaps, both challenges and opportunities, laid bare by the Conference on the Future of Europe.  

In what ways is the Conference a wake-up call for regions and their institutions to better facilitate the debate and dialogue on European affairs? And how can they seize it as a window of opportunity to promote trans-local, trans-sectoral collaboration and democratic innovation under its auspices?  

On 1 July 2021, 50 days after the Conference's launch, Studio Europa Maastricht will organize this special edition of Workplace Europe in collaboration with the European Committee of the Regions. A high-level panel discussion will open the Workplace, after which interactive (net)working sessions will be held. The ideas and insights collected will be shared with the Committee of the Regions, the organisers of the Conference on the Future of Europe and all participants.  

We are looking forward to welcoming (regional) policymakers, academics and civil society actors, and those eager to connect these spheres to advance the debate and dialogue on the future of Europe. 



Wilma Delissen-van Tongerlo
lma Delissen-van Tongerlo is the Mayor of Peel en Maas, a congregation of four towns in the North of the Province of Limburg with 43.000 inhabitants. Delissen has extensive experience as political representative on the local, regional level and European level. In addition to her work as Mayor of Peel en Maas, Wilma is also a member of the European Committee of the Regions where she takes seat in the CIVEX Commission on among other things active citizenship. She also takes seat in the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe. As a co-rapporteur, she prepared a recent report on the interaction between urban and rural areas.

Niccolo Milanese
Niccolo Milanese is a founding director of European Alternatives, a civil society organisation promoting democracy, equality and culture beyond the nation state. With Lorenzo Marsili, he is author of Citizens of Nowhere: How to save Europe from itself (Zedbooks 2018). His latest report for LSE IDEAS, The Rise of Insurgent Europeanism, explores the priorities and initiatives of civil-society movements in Europe and how they are interacting with politics.

Alvaro Oleart
Alvaro Oleart is a postdoctoral researcher at Studio Europa Maastricht and the Department of Political Science of Maastricht University. He published the book “Framing TTIP in the European Public Spheres: Towards an Empowering Dissensus for EU integration”. Previously Alvaro was affiliated to the research project ‘RECONNECT: Reconciling Europe with its Citizens through Democracy and the Rule of Law’ (Horizon 2020).                                                           

Wolfgang Petzold
Wolfgang Petzold is deputy director for communication of the Committee of the Regions. He previously worked ten years for the European Commission’s Regional Policy and Employment and Social Affairs Directorate-Generals. Wolfgang published several books and articles on EU cohesion policy and lectures part-time at universities in Bremen and Osnabrück.

Journalist Beatriz Rios will moderate the panel.