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Macron’s plan for EU citizens’ debates is insufficient

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Newly elected President of France, Emmanuel Macron, Photo: Pablo Tupin-Noriega (Wikimedia Commons)

Macron’s plan for EU citizens’ debates is insufficient


As prominently written on his website, the new French President Elect Emmanuel Macron intends to start a European debate with citizens at national and European level to rebuild trust in the European project and to forge a common European identity.

However, on the occasion of Europe Day that marks today, Democracy International demands to launch a new European Convention to realise a more democratic European Union.

“This is a déjà vu. Macron’s proposal reminds of the attempts by Europe’s leaders to include citizens into the European Project after the French and Dutch people had voted against the European Constitution. But periods of debate and reflection are not sufficient. We need to fully democratise the EU. For this, a European Convention according to Article 48 of the Lisbon Treaty followed by a European referendum are the means”, states Daniel Schily, board member of Democracy International.

When the French and Dutch citizens voted against the EU Treaty back in 2005, EU Commissioner at the time Margot Wallström responded with “Plan D” (D for Democracy and Debate) that aimed at organising a “broad public debate on the future of the European Union”. The “period of reflection” lasted from 2005 to 2007 and included increased internet debate, contacts with national parliaments and civil society as well as several cross-border citizen consultation projects.  

“EU leaders do the same mistake over and over again. They demand deliberations and debates in times of EU crisis. However, these actions have counterproductive effects. Citizens feel patronised instead of being taken seriously as they realise that these consultations are primarily symbolic gestures. But instead of talks, citizens must be given real power to decide on the design of the EU”, so Daniel Schily.

According to Article 48 of the Lisbon Treaty, a Convention is the only legal way to achieve substantial EU reform. A Convention is an assembly of representatives of the national Parliaments, of the Heads of State or Government of the Member States, of the European Parliament and the Commission, who jointly decide on treaty reforms. Democracy International is campaigning for a democratic, transparent and inclusive EU convention. The coalition for democracy demands that citizens and civil society participate in the convention process also. At the end, EU citizens are to decide on the outcome of the European convention through a referendum. 

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