- interview with Sandro Gozi Member of Renew’s delegation to the Conference on the Future of Europe
Sandro Gozi is an Italian politician elected from ‘Liste Renaissance’ representing France, and has been serving as a Member of the European Parliament since 2020. He was a member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies from 2006 to 2018 and served as Deputy State Secretary for European Affairs. In the European Parliament, he has since been serving on the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the Committee on Constitutional Affairs. In May 2021 he was elected as Secretary General of the European Democratic Party.
Q: Why did you decide to take part in the Conference Plenary?
A: Preparing the Conference on the Future of Europe has been an integral part of my work as an MEP since the start of my mandate. I’ve worked for my entire political career on most of the institutional issues that’ll be discussed with citizens during the conference, like pan-European democracy, transnational lists and unanimity voting in the Council. I want to raise awareness of these points, following up what citizens tell us and make sure that the EU emerges stronger than before. The process must be without ‘taboos’ and have a real follow-up afterwards. We must listen, debate, and then we also must act.
Q: Which topics will you be focusing on?
A: Even before the pandemic hit, Europe was facing a democratic crisis: foreign powers interfering with our elections, a lack of trust in politicians, EU integration paralysed, and fundamental rights being baffled with, to name just a few. It is Europe’s unspoken crisis, and it needs to be resolved in order for the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic to be sustainable. This is why I’ll be focussing on institutional issues: we need a stronger democratic system at EU level that delivers policies and solutions for all Europeans.
Q: How would you convince your constituents to take part?
A: We must ensure that there is maximum participation by Europeans regardless of where or how they live: cities and countryside, rich and poor, retired or young. All backgrounds, nationalities, genders, ages and ethnicities should be heard. In many countries in Europe, the EU is rarely spoken about. This is why we shouldn’t waste this unique opportunity to see, topic by topic, how the EU currently performs and where it needs to be improved. It is a ‘now or never’ moment for Europe: all EU member states, however big or small, need to be part of this Europe-wide conversation.
The pandemic has shown the strength of digital in bringing a wide range of people together, and we should make the most of it! It’s really important for pro-European voices to be part of the online (and off-line!) conversation. It is free, open to all citizens, and incredibly powerful. We need to do everything we can to make sure we have strong participation at events, and on the platform too!
Q: Renew Europe initiated the idea of the Conference, so what are the Group’s priorities?
A: Renew Europe wants the Conference to be a success: engaging as many citizens as possible and all over Europe both online via the platform and at events. We must be ready to take action following the outcomes of the Conference, regardless of whether citizens’ proposals require legislative or treaty changes. It would be a historic mistake for us to hold this Europe-wide Conference and then let nothing to happen. Our political group will be at the forefront of this process by ensuring that the EU is strengthened as a result! That’s what citizens expect from us, and we must deliver in time for the 2024 European elections.
Q: Why is this milestone so important in EU’s history?
A: We finally have a chance to put citizens back at the heart of the European project. Up until now, the European Union has been a top-down project led by politicians. Well, not any more. Women and men, retired and young, hairdressers and engineers, office workers and farmers; all need to be heard in the consultation process that reflects Europe’s diversity. We need to use the recovery of the pandemic to recover well and stronger than ever before: a sustainable and green Europe with a strong democratic system at EU level. Making sure this happens will be an important step in the EU’s history… That we cannot afford to waste!
Q:For you the Conference will be a success if…
A: there is a noticeable difference between how the EU worked before, and what it does after. The point of this Conference is not be a “Eurobarometer on steroids”, but an opportunity to identify the areas where the EU needs to change and then act. We need to make sure citizens take part, we listen to them carefully, debate what citizens tell us and then follow up on their proposals!