Following the UK’s decision to withdraw from the EU, the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, announced his intention to host a series of Future of Europe debates during plenary sessions over the year and a half leading to the May 2019 European elections. He would invite Heads of State or Government and other leading European figures to express their vision in a democratic and open forum, starting early 2018. This process was unprecedented in Parliament’s institutional life and came at a moment where all contributions and ideas were valuable to restore stability and clarity to the European project.
The Future of Europe debates hosted the majority of EU Heads of State or Government. Some 20 Heads of State or Government accepted the invitation (Figure 1) and gave their views in speeches (Figure 2), followed by a debate with Members during Parliament plenary sessions. Initially intended to run for the year 2018, the debates continued until the last plenary session in April 2019. They offer a precious opportunity to reflect on the future of the EU and to raise awareness of citizens and politicians alike with a view to both the summit of 9 May 2019 in Sibiu, Romania, and, later this same month, the European elections.