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Future of Europe: Parliament will ask for a revision of the treaties

Here it is again! Exactly one year after its launch on the initiative of the French President, Emmanuel Macron, the conference on the future of Europe is back in the news of the European Union on the occasion of the conclusion of its work. This exercise, which was to involve citizens in a broad reflection “to reform Europe without taboos” has remained largely under the radar of Europeans, which makes MEP LR François-Xavier Bellamy say that it is an “artificial device” that citizens have not “appropriated”. “The plenary was set up in September 2021, but it took until November for the 800 European citizens planned to be drawn by lot and for the work to really start… before the pandemic forced participants to work remotely. says Socialist MEP Nora Mebarek. The conference did not take place under the best auspices, especially as neither the European Commission nor the governments of the Twenty-Seven have invested much in it.

In the end, the plenary nevertheless retained 325 proposals on the basis of the recommendations of panels of European citizens, supervised by the Parliament, and of the more than 40,000 contributions published on the multilingual digital platform which had been created for this purpose last year. last. “The result is much less ambitious than imagined in 2019 but better than we feared when the conference started,” said a European observer.

Bolder proposals

“Direct subsidies towards organic farming” “establish common minimum standards of care at EU level”, “vote in European elections from the age of 16” or “hold periodic citizens’ assemblies” for better participation of civil society in the process of developing European policies, or even strengthening social Europe are some of the ideas retained which reveal the desire for a Union that is more active in climate transition, health and social issues.

Some proposals are bolder, for example when it comes to putting an end to the rule of unanimity between Member States in all areas, including therefore taxation and foreign policy, with the exception of accession of new States or cases (unspecified) affecting the fundamental values ​​of the Union. Or when it is a question of granting the European Parliament the right of initiative for European laws, today the exclusive competence of the Commission, as well as real budgetary competence.

Refoundation lawyer

The question now is whether and how these proposals will be taken up and in what form. The European Parliament has already stated its intention to seize this opportunity without delay. The institution, which has decided to take over all the reform proposals, wants to put pressure on the Commission and the Member States to push its advantage. “This conference will be historic from the moment we implement what has been decided”, launched the Belgian liberal MEP Guy Verhofstadt, co-chair of this conference who became aware “of the importance of complementary participatory mechanisms to representative democracy”. As of Thursday, MEPs will vote on a resolution which gives a mandate to the President of Parliament, Roberta Metsola, to activate article 48 which opens the way to a revision of the treaties. This would be the first step in a very long institutional procedure which would not necessarily lead to a change in the Treaties.

What reaction should we expect from the European Council? In the front row, Emmanuel Macron will be given a copy of the final report of the Conference on May 9, Europe Day, before delivering a speech in which he will not fail to reveal his intentions. Anyone who willingly advocates the refoundation of Europe could set limits on the new powers entrusted to Parliament or the passage of qualified majority voting in the field of foreign policy: “Qualified majority does not interest States only when it comes to serve their national interests”, deciphers an analyst. The re-elected French president should however continue to support the principle of transnational lists for future European elections.

If we can expect the German government to show itself to be more open to a revision of the treaties, having included in its coalition program the objective of a federal Europe, the countries of Eastern Europe should to show much more hesitancy in the face of the increased powers of Parliament.

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