Green success: One step closer to the Federal Republic of Europe!
Last Wednesday, European history was written in Strasbourg. Together with MEPs from the five largest pro-European political groups, we presented a reform roadmap for the European Union. For the first time ever the European Parliament is triggering changes to the EU Treaties. We want: more democracy, more citizen participation, more European security and less blackmailing by autocrats. This report is the result of four years of hard political work. Without strong Green backing, without a strong European civil society, without a new form of European citizen participation, without you, it would never have come this far. In 2019, we promised in the election campaign “Come, let’s build the new Europe!” We are now a good deal closer to that!
EU citizens sparking change
The last EU reform was 15 years ago. However, with the Treaty of Lisbon major design flaws could not be remedied. First and foremost: the principle of unanimity. Yes, Europe has mastered a number of crises in the past 15 years. But Europe’s answers were often too little, too late and/or bypassed the European Parliament. The negotiations on sanctions against Putin have shown how shamelessly Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán uses his veto to weaken sanctions against Putin’s henchmen, to extort EU funds, to paralyze European foreign policy. The unanimity principle is a security risk for Europe.
Heart of EU renewal
But how do you get things moving in a Europe whose integration is stuck halfway in so many areas? We looked at how others were doing it. The Irish have shown with citizens’ councils and referendums that citizens have made the breakthrough on abortion rights and marriage for all, where parliament and government have been stuck for many years. So, we decided to bring this idea to Europe. As a member of the steering committee of the Conference on the Future of Europe, I was able to make the idea a reality. The Citizens’ Councils have become the heart of the EU reform process during the Conference. I was impressed to attend these panels in Strasbourg, where 800 randomly selected citizens discussed and argued. In the end they presented more than 200 very concrete policy proposals for a new Europe.
These citizens’ proposals were the central document for our work in the European Parliament. We forged an alliance with conservatives, social democrats, liberals and leftists and turned the citizens’ demands into concrete EU treaty changes. It was always important to me in the negotiations to keep the pro-Europeans together. Because only with a united European Parliament can we develop the necessary pressure. Now, we need to convince a majority among the governments of EU member states. Because we want to start an EU Convention. To this end, we have now presented 140 pages of concrete amendments for Europe’s future. 140 pages which reflect our fight for a more democratic, a more robust Europe.
More democracy, more security, more Europe: the core elements
Majorities decide instead of vetoes: National vetoes in the Council should be almost completely abolished, including on taxes, the EU budget and foreign policy.
A strong Parliament at the heart of European democracy: Parliament would have equal rights with the Council in deciding the budget. Parliament would be able to propose laws.
A stronger link between the European election and the EU-Commission: the Commission would be more strongly elected by the Parliament and thus by the voters, and would in future be called the “Government”. The President would be proposed by the Parliament and confirmed by the Council. Instead of 27 commissioners (proposed by the member states), 14 would be proposed by the president to the parliament.
Defending Europe’s values: Sanctions against governments that violate fundamental EU values will be made easier. The European Court of Justice should decide whether fundamental values are violated, and the Council should then be able to impose sanctions by majority vote.
A strong Europe, when necessary: As a consequence of the Corona crisis, health will be a shared EU competence. The EU may also set minimum standards in education. Discrimination can be more easily prohibited by law. All new EU laws are subject to a climate neutrality clause.
What happens now and what you can do
The Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) will vote on the draft report on October 19. The plenary in November. However, to get closer to our dream of a Federal Republic of Europe, there is still a lot of political work ahead. To actually start an EU Convention, we need a simple majority among the governments of the EU member states, 14 out of 27. But we have not yet achieved that. That’s why we need courageous, strong governments to lead the way right now. Exactly today, a Franco-German expert group is presenting very helpful proposals, which you can find HERE.
Every support helps us! Please make clear in your communities and member states that the EU reform can no longer be put on the back burner. Who knows who will be in the White House next year? Who knows when the next big crisis will come? We should make Europe more democratic and resilient NOW and also implement the recommendations of the citizens* from the Future Conference.
The complete draft report of the MEPs in English: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/AFCO-PR-746741_EN.pdf
The Franco-German expert paper in English: https://www.politico.eu/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/19/Paper-EU-reform.pdf
SELECTED TREATY AMENDMENTS
Amendment 9: Treaty on European Union, Article 7 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 1
- On a reasoned proposal by one third of the Member States, by the European Parliament or by the European Commission, the Council, acting by a qualified majority after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2. Before making such a determination, the Council shall hear the Member State in question and may address recommendations to it, acting in accordance with the same procedure
Amendment 10: Treaty on European Union, Article 7 – paragraph 2
- The Council, acting by a qualified majority on a proposal by one third of the Member States, the European Parliament acting by a majority of its component Members, or the Commission may submit an application to the Court of Justice on the existence of a serious and persistent breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2.
Amendment 11: Treaty on European Union, Article 7 – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 1 a (new)
The Court of Justice shall decide on the application after inviting the Member State in question to submit its observations.
Amendment 12: Treaty on European Union, Article 7 – paragraph 3 – subparagraph 1
- Where a determination under paragraph 2 has been made, the Council, acting by a qualified majority, shall decide to take appropriate budgetary measures, which may include a suspension of commitments and payments from the Union’s budget, or to suspend certain of the rights deriving from the application of the Treaties to the Member State in question, including the voting rights of the representative of the government of that Member State in the Council. In doing so, the Council shall take into account the possible consequences of such a suspension on the rights and obligations of natural and legal persons.
Amendment 18: Treaty on European Union, Article 11 – paragraph 4 – subparagraph 1 a (new)
1a. The Commission or the European Parliament may propose a legal act based on any valid citizens’ initiative.
Amendment 47: Treaty on European Union, Article 17 – paragraph 5
- The Executive shall consist of no more than 15 members, including its President, the Union Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Union Secretary of Economic Governance.
The members of the Executive shall be chosen from among the nationals of the Member States, reflecting the demographic and geographical range of the Member States. This system shall be established by the European Council in accordance with Article 244 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
The Executive shall, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, be able to appoint undersecretaries for a specific portfolio or task. In doing so, the Executive should take into account the geographical range of the Executive referred to in the first subparagraph.
Amendment 49: Treaty on European Union, Article 17 – paragraph 7
- Following European elections the European Parliament, acting by a majority of its component members, shall nominate to the European Council a candidate for President of the European Union. The European Council, acting by a qualified majority, shall give its consent. If the nominated candidate does not obtain the required majority, the European Parliament, acting by a majority of its component members, shall within one month nominate a candidate. The European Council, acting by a simple majority, shall give its consent.
The President-elect shall propose a list of candidates for appointment as members of the Executive. They shall be selected in accordance with the criteria set out in paragraph 3 and 5.
The President, the Union Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the other members of the Executive shall be subject as a body to a vote of consent by the European Parliament. On the basis of this consent the Executive shall be appointed by the European Council, acting by a simple majority.
Amendment 131: Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Article 113
The European Parliament and the Council shall, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure and after consulting the Economic and Social Committee, adopt provisions for the harmonisation of legislation concerning direct and indirect taxes, including turnover taxes and excise duties and other forms of direct and indirect taxation.
Amendment 251: Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Article 312 – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 1
2. The European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall adopt a regulation laying down the multiannual financial framework.
More democracy, more citizen participation, more European security and less blackmailing by autocrats.