EP Calls for Quick Start to Treaty Revision - EU Leaders Hesitant
On 9 June 2022, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution calling on the European Council to set up a Convention to revise the EU Treaties as foreseen in Art. 48 TEU as part of the ordinary revision procedure. The resolution follows up on the final report of the Conference on the Future of Europe, which was submitted to European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, French President Emmanuel Macron on behalf of the Council Presidency, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on 9 May 2022. The final report includes 49 proposals and over 320 measures, based on 178 recommendations from the European Citizen’s Panels, input from the National Panels, ideas from the European Youth Events and contributions collected by digital platforms (→ related link).
The EP now pushes EU leaders to ensure that the citizens’ expectations are met and the outcome of the Conference on the Future of Europe is put to good use. It will be up to the 27 Heads of State or Government at the European Council, however, to decide (by simple majority) on setting up the Convention for treaty revision.
In light of the ongoing and recent crises, MEPs called for the treaties to be changed and take into account the following points:
- The voting procedure in the Council should be reformed in order to enhance the EU’s capacity to act. This would include the switch from unanimity to qualified majority voting in several areas, such as the adoption of sanctions and in the event of an emergency;
- The EU’s powers in areas of health and cross-border health threats, social and economic policies should be made more adaptable;
- Full implementation and incorporation of the European Pillar of Social Rights into the treaties should be ensured;
- The EU economy needs to be more resilient. A special focus should be put on small and medium-sized enterprises and on the promotion of investments focused on just, green and digital transitions;
- The European Parliament should be empowered with the right to initiate, amend and revoke legislation and have full co-decision rights on the EU budget;
- The procedure to protect the EU’s founding values needs to be strengthened and the determination and consequences of breaches of these values need to be clarified.
MEPs called on the European Council to swiftly adopt the next steps for the revision of the treaties, preferably at the EU summit on 23/24 June 2022. The conclusions of the European Council meeting of 23/24 June 2022, however, merely mentioned that the European Council "took note" of the proposals set out in the final report of the Conference", that "an effective follow-up to this report is to be ensured by the institutions, each within their own sphere of competences and in accordance with the Treaties", and that the European Council "recalls the importance of ensuring that citizens are informed of the follow-up to the proposals made in the Report."
The position of the European Commission is currently also not that clear. In her speech at the closing event of the Conference on the Future of Europe, President Ursula von der Leyen pointed out that "it is now up to us to take the most direct way [where citizens want this Europe to go], either by using the full limits of what we can do within the Treaties, or, yes, by changing the Treaties if need be." It is expected that she will further reflect on how to deal with the outcome of the Conference in her speech on the State of the Union in September 2022.
In a Communication of 17 June 2022 entitled "Conference on the Future of Europe - Putting Vision into Concrete Action", the Commission provided a first assessment of what is needed to follow up on the Conference proposals. The annex to this Communication divides the proposals into thematic areas and allocates the following four possible EU responses to them: (1) existing initiatives that address the proposals (e.g. the European Climate Law); (2) those already proposed by the Commission where the European Parliament and the Council are called upon to adopt (e.g. the New Pact on Migration); (3) planned actions which will deliver on the ideas, building in new reflections from the Conference (e.g. the Media Freedom Act); and (4) new initiatives or areas of work inspired by the proposals, falling within the remit of the Commission (e.g. issues related to mental health).
The Fondation Robert Schuman provided a good summary on the complex implementation of the ambitious ideas of the Conference on the Future of Europe (European Issue n° 636).