ISSUE N.4

28/06/2021
Newsletter
UEF

"If we draw lessons from the strengths and shortcomings of democratic politics in today’s world, we can find ways to reconnect people to the public interest and reshape the European Union they need for the future."

Guy VERHOFSTADT


The CoFoE is underway establishing the composition of the Plenary and the Citizens’ Panels. Which MEPs will be joining the Plenary? What will be debated? On which dates? Here the latest news!

1.The Plenary Composition unveiled 

The Conference Plenary will be composed of 108 representatives from the European Parliament, 54 from the Council (two per Member State) and 3 from the European Commission, as well as 108 representatives from all national Parliaments on an equal footing, and citizens. 108 citizens will participate to discuss ideas stemming from the Citizens' Panels and the Multilingual Digital Platform, along with the President of the European Youth Forum.

This graphic illustrates what the plenary session of the Conference on the Future of Europe will look like. 

Political parties have been gradually revealing which MEPs will  attend the Conference. The European Parliament has already decided how many will join for each political group. In this sense, there will be 28 delegates from the European People's Party, 23 from the Socialists and Democrats group, 15 from Renew Europe, 11 delegates from Identity and Democracy, 11 MEPs from the Greens, 9 from ECR, 6 from the Left and 5 from non-attached. 

As announced already last week, UEF is  honoured and delighted that our President, MEP Sandro GOZI, and our Vice-President, MEP Domènec RUIZ DEVESA, have been elected to represent the European Parliament in the Plenary of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

2.Inaugural Plenary, 1st Citizens’ event and Calendar of Meetings 

The Executive Board approved last week the calendar of Plenary meetings and European Citizens' Panels, with the series of events starting in June.

The inaugural Conference Plenary will take place on 19 June 2021, in Strasbourg, with remote and physical participation, and will include presentations on the European Citizens' Panels and on the Multilingual Digital Platform.

A European citizens' event, will be held on 17 June 2021 in Lisbon, and live streamed online. This will be composed of 27 representatives from national Citizens' Panels or national events (one per Member State), as well as the President of the European Youth Forum and a number of the citizens already selected for the European-level Citizens' Panels. The event, also organised in a blended format, will give participants the opportunity to discuss their expectations from the Conference with the three Co-Chairs. These participants will also attend the inaugural Plenary in Strasbourg.

The Executive Board today also took note of the final practical modalities for the four planned European Citizens' Panels, including the topics allocated to each:

  • PANEL 1: Values, rights, rule of law, democracy, security;
  • PANEL 2: Climate change, environment/health;
  • PANEL 3: Stronger economy, social justice, jobs/education, youth, culture, sport/digital transformation; and
  • PANEL 4: EU in the world/migration.

They have also agreed on the official calendar of the Conference. Here are all the dates:

In addition, guidance was prepared to assist Member States and others wishing to organise citizens' panels and other events at national, regional or local level, under the umbrella of the Conference.

3.UEF 1st Political Proposal

UEF has published its first political proposal into the CoFoE digital platform. This time, we are calling for the abolition of the right of veto and we demand an assignment of direct powers to the European Parliament in taxation and foreign policy.

Democracy is not compatible with the right of veto. Replacing unanimity with qualified majority decisions is therefore one of the indispensable reforms for the full democratisation of the European Union.

In the current Treaties in particular, unanimity is still required in two crucial areas: taxation (where the size of the Union budget and the nature and extent of the resources that finance it are decided unanimously by the Council and this decision must then be ratified by all the member states; unanimity is also required for approval of the Multiannual Financial Framework) and foreign and defence policy (where every decision is taken by the Council or the European Council with the unanimous consent of all the states).

In these two areas, the time has come to structurally change the EU's decision-making system and abolish the unanimity rule. This means replacing the current forms of coordination between the national governments (which are the real cause of the existence of the veto right) with a fully democratic European government, accountable to and controlled by the European citizens. For this to happen - in addition to reforming the decision-making system in the Council and the European Council - the European Parliament must be given direct power so that it can assume the role of co-legislator and so that the Union can legislate on these matters through acts directly applicable in the member states.

Check out the UEF’s proposal here. We encourage you to engage and discuss it not only on the platform but also in our upcoming events! Stay tuned!

4.Slovenian EU Council presidency

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, whose country is set to take over the rotating EU Council Presidency, has admitted that the EU needs a “relaunch”. A Slovene presidency priority, he revealed, will be to set up an EU Institute for Constitutional Law to crack down on breaches of the rule of law.

The EU has found itself at loggerheads on this issue with Poland and Hungary, but  Mr Janša, did not mention any particular Member States.

On Wednesday, Mr Jansa also stated that the new Conference on the EU’s Future would be an opportunity to breathe new life into the “European Project” and that “it’s important because it fits into the post pandemic phase and the relaunch of our economies.”

5.Civil Society Speaks Up 

The launch of the Conference on the Future of Europe marks a turning point in the life of the Union. In this context, many organisations, think tanks and politicians are giving their opinion on how the Conference should be and what’s more important, the final outcome and follow-up of it. 

How to co-opt the Conference on the Future of Europe    

Wojciech Przybylski (Visegrad Insight editor-in-chief and chairman of the Res Publica Foundation in Warsaw) discusses how the CoFoE is vulnerable to being hijacked by governments laundering their policies through friendly NGOs.

Could 'Future Europe' conference actually help fix climate change?

Dr Nils Meyer-Ohlendorf (head of international and European governance at the Ecologic Institute) reflects on how can the EU better help member states and their citizens in addressing the big challenges of the future - such as climate change? 

Time to rethink EU democracy

To regain people’s trust in democracy, we need to fundamentally revisit the way our democracies work. The Conference on the Future of Europe is a chance to update the way Brussels does politics, Guy Verhofstadt and Dacian Cioloș write.

Long odds on a successful conference

Dick Roche (former minister of state for European affairs when Ireland conducted the two referendums on the Treaty of Lisbon of the EU) establishes a comparison between the position in which the European Union is today and that in which Ireland found itself in 2001, following the rejection of the Nice Treaty in a referendum.

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