On 19 October 2023, the European Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) will discuss a draft report on proposals for the amendment of the Treaties. This extensive document follows the European Parliament’s resolution of 9 June 2022 calling for a European Convention for the revision of the Treaties and seeks to amend both the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
The proposals, building on the recommendations of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE), call for a profound reform of the functioning of the European Union to enable it to act faster and more efficiently, especially in times of crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic or Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. The report also calls to strengthen the EU’s democratic legitimacy and accountability, including by switching from unanimity to qualified majority voting (QMV) and through the ordinary legislative procedure (OLP) in a range of areas including defence and foreign policy.
While President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has reiterated in her state of the Union address on 13 September 2023 that she would support a European Convention and Treaty change “if and where it is needed”, the Council of the European Union is split on the topic and stalling for time. There seems to be little appetite for tackling amending the treaties among several Member States, even though the topic is also hotly debated in the context of further enlargement of the European Union.
The next step for the European Parliament is to have the report adopted by the AFCO committee by the end of the month and then later in November by the plenary.
- Council of the European Union: The Council’s follow-up to the Conference on the Future of Europe
- European Parliament: Draft report on proposals of the European Parliament for the amendment of the Treaties
- European Commission: Communication on the Conference on the Future of Europe
European Movement International’s Position
Our new policy position entitled “After the Conference on the Future of Europe: Reform to Deliver on the Citizens’ Recommendations” puts forward key recommendations for amending the TEU and TFEU to allow for an improvement of the democratic functioning of the European Union and equipping it with the proper tools to effectively address current and future challenges.
Firstly, we call for shifting from unanimity to QMV in the Council in the areas of Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) to more efficiently respond to emerging threats and establish a fully-fledged European Defence Union. Moreover, as the rule of law mechanism currently requires unanimity in the Council to be triggered, effective action is rendered unattainable due to Member States’ diluting, delaying, and vetoing decisions which benefit the EU as a whole. Thus, switching to QMV is of equal importance to enforce the rule of law framework and address violations in Member States.
Secondly, Treaty reform is a crucial step in the right direction for an enlarged Union by 2030 capable of strategically countering destructive external influences in Europe and strengthening its democratic legitimacy.
We believe that amending the Treaties needs to go hand in hand with strengthening citizen participation and deliberative democracy. National and transnational citizens’ assemblies need to represent a permanent feature of the EU’s democratic life. Furthermore, organised civil society should be involved in these deliberative tools due to its expertise and long experience with civil dialogue, as well as citizens and key stakeholders from candidate countries.