The EU needs a European Commissioner for Future Generations

At the dawn of the next European elections, it is increasingly crucial to involve future generations in political discussion and decisions in order to develop long-term thinking. Based on the article written by professor Alberto Alemanno founder of The Good Lobby and Elizabeth Dirth Development Director at the ZOE Institute for Future-fit Economies untitled “Future Generations must be given a seat at the EU table” published online by Euronews, this blog post will highlight what could be the role of a new European Commissioner dedicated to future generations.

Although the European Union was conceived as a long-term project, there is growing evidence that it is struggling to put in place policies that prioritise the livelihoods of future generations. At a time of multiple crises, decisions are being taken under enormous pressure and future generations have no rights or representation in the current decision-making process. Yet, it is these day-to-day decisions, policies and investments that will shape the future of generations to come, and it is important that they are properly represented.

Many youth movements have tried to lead the way by playing an important role in making the voice of future generations heard, but thinking about the future needs to be institutionalised, in all areas and aspects of politics.

This is why the article stresses the need for the European Union to create a European Commissioner dedicated to future generations. The Commissioner’s role would be to lead a team of experts responsible for advising on the European Commission’s policy priorities, annual legislative programmes and impact assessments. They would also work with the various departments and a privileged auditor responsible for channelling the long-term concerns of citizens.

The article also suggests two priorities for the role of the European Commissioner: 

  • embedding strategic foresight into policymaking (strategic foresight work has been a key area of development in the European Commission since 2019)
  • act as a guardian and conduit for future generations’ interests across the European Union.

With regard to the second priority, it would be open to direct contributions from citizens and organisations concerned by the long-term implications of the EU’s actions and inactions. As such, it would bring together citizen participation processes, such as visioning, and deliberative processes, or other foresight techniques, to ensure a planned transition to that future.

It is nevertheless encouraging to note that countries within or outside Europe have already taken action and have bodies dedicated to future generations. Moreover, discussions about such a mandate are also happening at the UN level. At EU level, Commissioner Šefčovič has already called a meeting of future ministers and the foundations for a new Commission portfolio are already being laid.

Read the full article by Professor Alberto Alemanno and Elizabeth Dirth to learn more about the importance of representing future generations in current political decisions.