N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
The ‘Conference on the Future of Europe (please read: European Union!)’ has had his closing event. The purpose of the Conference was to engage citizens in a broad debate on the future of the EU.
But the organisation of the Conference has already come under scrutiny. Chosen participants were inherently pro-EU and didn’t reflect the views of the average EU citizens; the participants were paid for their participation; the online platform, a key part of the process given COVID restrictions, has been a mayor failing looking at participation figures.
Throughout the entire process, the European Parliament has instrumentalised the conference to pursue their institutional interests, for example having the final say on the budget, the legislative right of initiative, the power to appoint the Commission President. But see, without any hesitation after manipulating the conference, the EP now wants a Constitutional Convention, to start the change of the EU treaties.
The consultation resulted in 49 proposals containing more than 300 recommendations essentially calling for the EU to become more of a federal superstate with more powers for ‘Brussels’, remove the veto of member states from certain sensitive policy areas, etcetera.
The proposals for change are now to be evaluated by the EU countries. If a simple majority of them -14 nations- agree, they can vote a procedure to start negotiations on treaty changes, but it is unclear the Council will be able to muster even the simple majority. Let alone to secure the unanimous vote needed to actually carry out any treaty changes.
Already one in three countries immediately oppose launching a procedure to change the EU treaties. ‘We do not support unconsidered and premature attempts to launch a process towards treaty change’, said the text signed by Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovenia and Sweden.
No surprise, that Commission President Von der Leyen threw her weight behind the idea of changing EU treaties. More power for the EP and less power for the member states? The Commission will also be a winner.