The United Kingdom has left the European Union last Saturday. And yet it is still unclear how the European Union is facing the future. Are we going to cling to the status quo or are we willing to make the Union more powerful and more democratic in order to avoid a disaster like Brexit? The conference on the future of the EU is due to start as early as 9th of May 2020. However, the Member States, Commission and Parliament have not yet been able to agree on a design for the reform process.
No commitment from the three presidents
Last Friday the three presidents of the EU institutions spoke about their visions for the future of the Union after Brexit. However, Charles Michel (European Council), David Sassoli (Parliament) and Ursula von der Leyen (Commission) failed to make a clear statement on the Conference Future of the EU. The planned reform process was only mentioned marginally during the press conference. The three presidents have failed to come up with a courageous integration plan.
No half-hearted answers for Europe’s future!
However, with the Brits leaving the Union, European citizens expect answers to questions about the future of the Union. They want to know what the work for a better Europe is going to look like. Brexit has shown how dangerous it is if we promote the European idea only half-heartedly and merely point out the advantages for trade and business. I expect the Presidents of the European institutions to make a strong commitment to building a European identity and a courageous departure for the future. An ambitious conference on the future of Europe is Europe’s best response to the Brexit.
Negotiations are about to start
In the coming days, negotiations between Parliament, the Commission and the Council will begin in Brussels on the precise details and layout of the conference. The European Parliament has so far submitted the most ambitious proposal. The Commission and the Council have not shown much motivation to involve the European citizens in a meaningful way. They also shy away from untying the European Treaties. But if we are really serious about the future of the European Union, we need a political conference that also addresses fundamental issues. I will therefore continue to push for citizens’ assemblies, a stronger Spitzenkandidaten principle and the introduction transnational lists. Changing the Treaties must not be a taboo.
It looks as if Renew and the EPP will send Guy Verhofstadt and Manfred Weber into the negotiations. The Greens in the European Parliament have elected me as their representative.
Open letter from the academia
More than 100 European academics also point out the need for action at the Conference Future of the EU. In an open letter – signed by Michael Zürn, Ulrike Guerot and Alberto Alemanno, among others – they call on the political leadership of the EU and the member states to involve citizens in the reform process and to show openness to possible changes of the European Treaties.
Click here for the open letter: