Draft reports on institutional amendments in the EU the focus of a session at a European Parliament seminar

Three Euro MPs outlined this evening, during a seminar on the Future of Europe, organised by the European Parliament, some of the main points they raise in their reports regarding amendments expected to be introduced with a view to improving the EU and rending the European Union more functional.

Speaking at the afternoon session of the seminar, Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgian rapporteur on possible adjustments of the EU’s current institutional set up and in charge of Brexit at the European Parliament, referred to two things that need to be looked at, first to see the reforms that are necessary to be introduced to the EU in order to render the EU better for the future and to deal with Brexit, which described as a sign of the fact that the very existence of the EU is being questioned.

“We cannot govern Europe in the future the way we do today,” he pointed out, adding that unanimity in decision making is one element which needs to be reformed.

He said in his report he is trying to draft another system for the government of the EU, including end the notion of one member state one commissioner, transform the council, advocate another system of financing, propose the associated state status, establish a European defence union and introduce changes on the application of treaties.

Italian Euro MP Mrs Bresso referred to the major challenges the EU is facing and stressed that “we should use the Lisbon treaty to improve the functioning of the EU, we do not want to use intergovernmental approaches, we want to use qualified majority voting.”

“We believe that the Council should become a genuine legislative chamber,” she added, noting that it is important to work on what we have in the treaties as a lot can be done

German Euro MP Elmar Brok, endorsing what Bresso had said, talked about preparing for the vision of the future. Things take too long to happen, and the EU needs to move faster, he added.

In his draft report on possible evolution of and adjustments to the current institutional set-up of the European Union, submitted to the Committee on Constitutional Affairs by the Rapporteur, Belgian Euro MP Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament considers that the time of crisis management by means of ad hoc and incremental decisions has passed, as it only leads to measures that are too little, too late. The European Parliament, the draft report says, is convinced that it is now time to address the shortcomings of the governance of the European Union by undertaking a comprehensive, in-depth reform of the Lisbon Treaty.

The EP observes with great concern the proliferation of subsets of Member States undermining the unity of the Union by causing a lack of transparency, as well as diminishing the trust of the people and recommends that, instead of these multiple derogations, a type of ‘associate status’ could be proposed to those states in the periphery that only want to participate on the sideline, i.e. in some specific Union policies; this status should be accompanied by obligations corresponding to the associated rights.

The EP proposes merging the deficit and debt procedures, the macroeconomic imbalance procedure and the country-specific recommendations into a single ‘convergence code’ of a legally binding nature, setting minimum and maximum standards, where only compliance with this code would allow access to EU funds for investment projects or participation in new instruments that combine economic reform with fiscal incentives such as a fiscal capacity for the euro area or a common debt instrument.

Furthermore it stresses that for the Union to strengthen the defence of the EU territory, as a pillar within NATO, which remains the cornerstone of the European security architecture, and to enable the Union to act autonomously in operations abroad, mainly with a view to stabilising its neighbourhood, the Treaties should provide for the possibility of establishing a European defence union.

It also proposes that the decision-making procedures for both own resources and the MFF should be shifted from unanimity to qualified majority voting, thereby inducing real co-decision between the Council and Parliament on all budgetary matters; repeats its call, furthermore, to make the MFF coterminous with the mandates of Parliament and the European executive, and insists that the finances of all Union agencies should become an integral part of the EU budget.

In their draft report on improving the functioning of the European Union building on the potential of the Lisbon Treaty, submitted to the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, Rapporteurs Italian Mercedes Bresso and German Elmar Brok note that the European Union and its Member States are facing unprecedented challenges, such as the refugee crisis, the foreign policy challenges in the immediate neighbourhood and the fight against terrorism, as well as globalisation, climate change, the consequences of the financial and debt crisis, the lack of competitiveness and the social consequences in several Member States, and the need to reinforce the EU internal market, which have so far been inadequately addressed.

The European Parliament underlines that these challenges cannot be tackled individually by the Member States, but need a collective response from the Union.

It considers it necessary for the European Parliament to reform its working methods in order to cope with the challenges ahead, by using its control over the Commission, including in relation to the implementation and application of the acquis in the Member States, by limiting first-reading agreements to exceptional cases of urgency, and by improving its own electoral procedure through the revision of the 1976 Electoral Act in line with Parliament’s proposals contained in its resolution of 11 November 2015 on the reform of the electoral law of the European Union or as a future step through the adoption of implementing measures in application of Article 14 of the Electoral Act.

The Parliament calls for the creation of the position of European Finance Minister and insists on the adoption of Convergence Guidelines, to be enshrined within a Convergence Code and adopted under the ordinary legislative procedure, with a view to creating a more binding framework for economic policy coordination (with key economic, competitiveness and social targets, such as in the areas of labour markets, competitiveness, business environment and public administrations, aspects of tax policy and social protection) that is open to all 28 Member States and that guarantees them the possibility of participating in a shock-absorption mechanism.

Source: Cyprus News Agency.