Olaf Scholz' Europe speech: Enough keynote speeches! - Time to tackle the key issues!
Today, on Europe Day, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was keynote speaker in the European Parliament. However, the Chancellor did not really address the key issues. Scholz reiterated that we need more decisions by majority on tax issues and foreign policy at the level of the Council. This would be tantamount to reducing national vetoes in EU policy. Scholz welcomed the proposals for treaty reforms, on which the Parliament is currently working. He said that “an enlarged European Union must be a reformed EU”. However, he did not indicate a path for an EU Convention – the basic prerequisite for changes to the EU Treaties. He merely promised to work towards having the member states discuss the proposals in the Council.
Scholz’s speech illustrates how little has happened in the past twelve months since the finalization of decisions by the Conference on the Future of Europe. Following the largest citizen participation process in the history of the EU, the European Parliament had started the process for an EU Convention. Currently, the Parliament is working on a comprehensive report for an update of the EU treaties. Both initiatives have so far remained unanswered by the EU member states’ governments.
MEP Daniel Freund, Green negotiator for the European Parliament’s EU Treaty reform package and representative on the steering committee of the Conference on the Future of Europe, comments:
“Germany must be the engine of European integration. We need a Chancellor who pushes hard for an EU Convention in the Council of Member States. The rhetorical support for the work of the European Parliament today is important, but the work of persuasion must be done by the Chancellery in the Council. More initiatives are needed like that of the German Foreign Ministry for a “Group of Friends on Qualified Majority Voting in EU Foreign and Security Policy.”
“The Conference on the Future of Europe – including 800 randomly selected citizens – has adopted a package of EU treaty change recommendations. This important initiative must not stall now. National vetoes have become a security risk for the EU in the face of the Russian threat. The Chancellor is right: less unanimity makes Europe capable of acting not only in foreign policy, but also in taxation and thus social justice policy. The most reliable way to achieve this is an EU Convention. It must finally start now.”
German Foreign Ministry on the new Group of Friends on Qualified Majority Voting: https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/newsroom/news/-/2595304
Reform package of the EU Future Conference, presented 9 May 2022: https://danielfreund.eu/future-conference-reforms-agreed/?lang=en
Decision of the European Parliament to launch the process for a Convention, 9 June 2022: https://danielfreund.eu/ep-launches-treaty-change/?lang=en
We need a Chancellor who pushes hard for an EU Convention in the Council of Member States.