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Ambitious final proposals adopted as the Conference on the Future of Europe concludes

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EU flags in front of European Parliament entrance in Strasbourg

Ambitious final proposals adopted as the Conference on the Future of Europe concludes

02-05-2022

Ambitious and comprehensive proposals for the future of Europe were adopted as the historic Conference on the Future of Europe concluded its year-long work on April 30 in Strasbourg, which include measures to reform the democratic functioning of the EU, proposals for institutional reforms, and the introduction of new participatory mechanisms. The Conference’s final report consists of 325 wide-ranging proposals clustered in 49 objectives across nine thematic chapters, which are the result of the recommendations of the European Citizens’ Panels and the proposals of the nine Working Groups of the Plenary. The conclusions of the Conference will be handed over to the three Presidents of the EU Institutions by the three Co-Chairs of the Conference: Member of European Parliament Guy Verhofstadt, Vice-President of the European Commission Dubravka Suica, and Clement Beaune on behalf of the French Presidency of the EU Council.

 

33 proposals and 5 objectives consist of the chapter on European democracy. Democracy International appreciates that the Conference has met the moment of adoption of the proposals and supports the many proposals that aim to strengthen and reform European democracy, such as, but not limited to: 

  • Holding regular citizens’ assemblies and anchoring the mechanism into EU law

  • Introducing a “Youth Check” on legislation as an impact assessment and consultation mechanism with young people 

  • Introducing EU-wide referendums 

  • Harmonising electoral conditions for European Parliament elections and moving towards transnational lists

  • Giving European citizens a greater say on who is elected Commission President

  • Giving the European Parliament the right of legislative initiative including the right to decide on the budget of the EU

  • Qualified majority voting to replace unanimity voting in the EU Council, with exceptions in certain cases

  • Greater inclusion of civil society and social partners in the EU decision-making process

  • Considering to lower the age of voting for European Parliament elections to 16 

  • A reopening of the discussion on an EU Constitution  

Many proposals require enforced legislation of already existing EU law, some require new legislation to be introduced, and some proposals require amending the EU Treaties. During the Conference Plenary, Guy Verhofstadt historically announced that the European Parliament pledges to formally initiate a European Convention according to Article 48 of Lisbon Treaty to deal with the proposals that require Treaty change. The European Parliament is due to vote on the matter this week.

“When the Conference started, we were in the middle of a pandemic, and now the Conference concludes during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The many crises the EU is facing confirms that there is an urgency in reforming Europe so that it is fit for the challenges of the 21st century and can respond to these crises. The adopted proposals of the Conference serve as a very good base for future discussion and action, including the launch of a new EU Convention,” says Daniela Vancic, European Programme Manager at Democracy International. 

For nearly a decade, Democracy International has campaigned and called for a new Convention to reform the EU Treaties as the process enshrined in Article 48 of the Lisbon Treaty, in a way that is democratic, transparent, and accountable. In order for an EU Convention to be meaningful and lead to the most democratically legitimate outcomes, it must engage civil society and people in Europe in every step of the process, allowing them to set the agenda as well as shape Convention proposals and invite them to approve the Convention’s final outcomes in an EU-wide vote at the end of the process. 

A final ceremonial event on May 9th, Europe Day, will officially conclude the Conference and allow each EU institution to follow up on the Conference outcomes within their own sphere of competence. While a concrete follow-up mechanism is not yet foreseen, a feedback event in late 2022 is planned with the members of the European Citizens’ Panels to take stock of the follow-up and implementation process of the proposals. 

 

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