This article situates the Conference on the Future of Europe within past attempts at reforming the Union by unpacking its democratic raison d'être and its experimental participatory architecture. After rehearsing the standard account of its genesis, the article frames the Conference as an attempt at creating a new, yet temporary, transnational opportunity structure for participatory deliberation capable of compensating for the lack of a genuine, pan-EU political and media space. While it would be naïve political solutionism to expect that this ad hoc, top-down initiative could magically address the EU democratic malaise, the Conference's embedded experimentalism offers a promising first step towards the realisation of the legitimacy-enhancing potential of participation. Ultimately, the launch of the Conference marks the first explicit admission that citizens—not the Member States or the EU institutions—are the EU's ultimate source of authority and legitimacy. Once Europe's democratic genie is out of the bottle, it will be difficult to put it back in.
Alemanno, A. (2020). Unboxing the Conference on the Future of Europe and its democratic raison d’être. European Law Journal, 26(5–6), 484–508. https://doi.org/10.1111/eulj.12413