• The President of France is in favor of revising the treaties during the closing of the Conference on the future of Europe

  • The European Commission says that unanimous decision-making makes no sense “if we want to move quickly”

For a year, 800 citizens and politicians of the European Union (EU) debated and discussed the future of the continent in a pan-European exercise in participatory democracy that arrived this Monday, May 9, europe dayto its final point with a closing ceremony in the plenary of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. An act in which they have delivered to the representatives of the European institutions –Ursula von der Leyen (European Comission), Roberta Metzola (European Parliament) and Emmanuel Macron (Council) – of a final report that includes 49 major recommendations and 300 specific proposals to achieve a fairer, stronger, greener, more supportive and flexible EU, with a more efficient decision procedure that even eliminates unanimity in decision-making with a reform of the EU Treaties. The most repeated message from the participants: “We can’t waste any more time.”

“Unanimity voting is a major challenge for decision-making in the EU. The large number of member states makes it very difficult to reach an agreement. If necessary, European treaties should change to address the issue of unanimity,” confirms the document sent to the European institutions in which they recommend a reassessment of the decision-making system and particularly of unanimity because it represents a “challenge2 for decision-making in the EU. “We recommend that all issues that are decided unanimously be decided by qualified majority. The only exceptions should be the admission of new members to the EU and changes to the fundamental principles of the EU,” the report said.

“What we deliver to you is the fruit of months of work and sacrifice. We invite you to read all our proposals and put them all into practice, without distorting them, without choosing between them based on different interests and political agendas. Without limiting yourself to those that do not contemplate the modification of the treaties. The proposals that we present define a new Europe. A new Europe in which we believe and for which we will continue to fight. A Europe that we need now, do not waste this opportunity”, the Italian has urged them Laura Maria Cinquini, member of the panel of European citizens. “If we, the citizens, have been able to work together and reach consensus, you too can and should do so”, added the Canarian lawyer Jorge Pazosanother of the citizens who decided to embark on this “magnificent experience”.

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end of unanimity

“I have always defended that the unanimous vote has ceased to make sense if we want to move forward quickly,” responded Von der Leyen, who has assured that he is on the side of all those who want to reform the EU so that it works better. “The important thing is that they have told us where they want this Europe to go and it is up to us to trace the most direct path. We can do it within the limits allowed by the treaties or changing them if necessary,” he assured, announcing that he will detail the first proposals for respond to citizens’ proposals in the State of the Union address in September.

Like the German, Macron has been in favor of reforming the treaties so that the EU remains effective. “I am in favor of institutional reform and I would like it to be debated boldly from the European Council in June”, he defended, closing ranks with the opening of a Convention demanded by Metsola and committing himself to ensure that the changes are not “only of style and methodology” but that there are concrete developments. In a published statement this Monday on the occasion of the conference, 13 Member States, from the Nordic countries or the Baltics to PolandCroatia or Bulgaria, have already said that they consider the change “premature” and that there is no time for institutional discussions.

Russian aggression

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Many references during the speeches to the “medieval act of aggression”, as Metsola has described the war from Russia against Ukraine and the military parades in Moscow. “An image that reminds us that we should never take for granted what Europe is and what it means,” Von der Leyen recalled. Also message of solidarity with Ukraine and reality. “Even if we grant him candidate status tomorrow, we are all aware that the process takes several years, it may take several decades, to say this is to be honest”, recalled Emmanuel Macron who recalled that “the EU, taking into account its level of integration, it cannot be the only way to structure the European continent in the short term”.

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Faced with this reality, it has launched the idea of ​​setting up a “European political community” to which countries such as Ukraine or other countries of the Western Balkans can join, which share European values, but which have not yet begun the accession process and which they may take years to integrate into the EU as well as others that do not have a vocation to join such as the United Kingdom. Although it has avoided limiting which countries could structure this type of alliance, it has limited competencies such as political cooperation, security, cooperation in energy, transport, investment in infrastructure or the movement of people.

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