Reconstruction of the “common roof” of Europe

A series of reform measures were proposed at the Conference on the Future of Europe which took place in Strasbourg (France) and closed on May 9, right on Europe Day.

The EU flag outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on August 21, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)
The EU flag outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on August 21, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)

Many opinions shared at the conference said that extensive reform is an urgent task to rebuild the “blue flag alliance” to become stronger in the context of complicated and unpredictable developments throughout the region and the world.

The conference considered the report summarising the contributions of European citizens, regardless of nationality, gender, age, socioeconomic background, and education level, who are mainly youth, to help the European Union (EU) better meet people’s expectations.

The issues of concern to the European people cover a wide range of topics, from European democracy, the position of the EU throughout the world, issues of public health, economic strength, social equality and jobs, digital transformation, energy transition, climate change response, immigration, education, culture, youth and sports.

The proposals will be considered and selected by the European Parliament (EP), European Commission (EC) and EU governments to addto the bloc’s agenda.

Among the public’s proposals, notably, there were many calling for the removal of the principle of “absolute consensus” in EU decisions related to foreign policy, security, taxation, finance, as well as in the areas of justice and internal affairs.

Proponents of reform argue that this principle slows down or even hinders the development of the EU. If the veto is removed, the EU will only need the support of 15 of the 27 member states, or 65% of the bloc’s population, to pass important decisions.

Under the plan, EC President Ursula von der Leyen will announce the EU’s reform proposalin September, including a change to the principle of unanimity. The EC President emphasised that now is the time for the EU to act to better meet the expectations of European citizens.

As the rotating President of the EU Council and one of the pioneers in favour of internal reforms, French President Emmanuel Macron called on the EU to accelerate far-reaching reforms of the “blue flag alliance”. Affirming that Europe has changed significantly after the recent crises, the French President proposed to create a new European political community, creating opportunities for countries outside the EU to pursue the core valuesof Europe. Within the framework of his visit to Germany on May 10, which is also his first foreign trip after being re-elected, President Emmanuel Macron affirmed that France will work with Germany to create a stronger Europe, ready to deal with new and more complicated challenges.

The EP welcomes the ideas exchanged at the Conference on the Future of Europe, but members of the EP acknowledge that implementing reform proposals will require changes to EU treaties and this is a long and complex process, requiring high consensus.

The reform proposal report at the conference was opposed by a third of EU members, mainly countries in Northern and Eastern Europe. The countries argue that, as the alliance is struggling to weather the severe economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine and climate change, the process of changing EU treaties would deplete resources already devoted to addressing more pressing challenges and could lead to a new, even deeper division of the bloc.

EP President Roberta Metsola said that Europeans, especially young citizens, should be at the heart of the EU’s vision for the future. Their opinions and proposals on the future of the common roof of the EU were considered at the recent conference. It is important that the EU leaders would turn these proposals into action to rebuild the union stronger and promote better lives for the people.