European Parliament votes in favor of Treaty Change: fewer vetoes, stronger parliament, right to abortion
Today, the European Parliament approved a comprehensive package containing more than 250 proposals for concrete treaty changes. The pro-European majority extends from the Christian Democrats to the Left. Many proposals are based on the demands formulated during the Conference on the Future of Europe, in which all EU governments, the European, as well as national parliaments and 800 randomly selected EU citizens discussed the future of the Union.
Key content (for detailed briefing see below):
- Abolition of national vetoes almost everywhere, e.g. in foreign policy or in the steps towards EU enlargement
- Greater impact of European elections on the composition of the EU Commission because the Commission president is proposed by Parliament and chooses her commissioners herself
- The EU is given responsibility for health, and the right to abortion should be included in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights
- Stronger defense of our values: EU court decides whether a national government violates EU values. The Council no longer decides on sanctions unanimously, but by majority.
- Strengthening the European Parliament by giving it full legislative initiative.
MEP Daniel Freund (Greens/EFA), EP rapporteur on treaty changes, comments:
“These treaty changes make European democracy stronger and more resilient. They make the EU more ready to act and fit for the next round of EU enlargement. National vetoes are a security risk for Europe. Putin only has to turn one government to block all of Europe. We have to stop this. This vote is a historic success. Now it is up to the member states to finally clear the way for an EU convention.”
The most important content: less vetoes, stronger parliament, right to abortion
Able to act without vetoes: The most important proposal is the abolition of many cases of unanimity in the Council, i.e. national vetoes, also in foreign policy and the individual steps before the final EU enlargement. Instead, decisions are made in the Council with a majority of the states and population.
Further democratization of the EU Commission: The Commission President should be proposed by the EP and confirmed by the Council instead of the current vice versa. The President of the Commission should choose her Commissioners, not anymore the member states. As a result, the de facto EU government no longer depends on the EU governments, but on the results of the European elections.
Defending the rule of law without blockade: Article 7 of the EU Treaty allows the withdrawal of the benefits of membership for a government that seriously and persistently violates fundamental EU values (not only EU money, but also voting rights). So far it requires unanimity minus one, blocked by the governments of Hungary and Poland, which protected each other. If this cannot be resolved politically now after the election in Poland, the decision would instead be referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The court decides whether the basic values are violated, the council decides on sanctions.
Health, including abortion rights, will also become an EU competence: health, civil protection, industry and education will become shared competences. The right to abortion is also explicitly a shared competence in order to make minimum standards mandatory across the EU.
And more: right of initiative, climate protection as a contractual goal, joint arms procurement
- Real right of initiative for the EP
- Discrimination can be prevented more easily by law
- Stopping global warming will be the goal of the contract, and climate neutrality will be a prerequisite for all new laws
- Arms procurement is organized on a European basis
- The EU can legislate for transparency standards in the EU institutions
Timetable: Chances of a decision for an EU convention in spring 2024
- Plenary vote 22 November 2023
- The General Affairs Council will refer the EP proposals to the European Council (the Spanish Presidency promised this for Nov/Dec 2023).
- The European Council will discuss (possibly in December) and decide whether an EU convention will discuss and decide on the proposals (possibly Belgian presidency in the first half of 2024). The EuCo decides this with a simple majority. A timetable for further debate is already being circulated in the Council, which also provides a date for deciding whether there will be changes to the Treaties.
- An EU convention would probably only meet after the European elections.
Draft adopted by AFCO: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/A-9-2023-0337_EN.html
(The resolution is a good overview of the 267 amendments to the treaties.)
These treaty changes make European democracy stronger and more resilient. They make the EU more ready to act and fit for the next round of EU enlargement.