A Conference for the Future of Europe will take place in a few days. The context is very interesting, especially due to the pandemic crisis and the existential problems of the European Union.
A structured discussion on the future of the EU is not new. In 2002-2003, it was the European Convention that proposed a European constitution. The project was too ambitious and was rejected by the famous referenda in France and the Netherlands. However, a compromise was reached: the present Treaty of Lisbon, which governs the current European order. Experts even claim that the current EU crisis began at the institutional level in 2005 with the non-ratification of the European constitution.
Now, however, EU member states have ruled out changing EU treaties. The Council is of the opinion that the outcome of the Conference should be reflected in a report to the 2022 European Council.
The idea of the new debate was launched in March 2019, the French President proposed to organize a Conference for Europe, in order to reinvent the European political project. This initiative is part of the governing program proposed by President Ursula von der Leyen, with Commissioner Dubravka Șuica being given the responsibility to develop the subject.
The European Union needs a strategic vision to succeed. A third major European project is necessary, following the success of the internal market and the single currency. European Commissioner Thierry Breton recently stated that the current Commission considers that "the new proposals are the basis for a new historic step".
The European Union is focusing on five meta-projects: deepening European integration, European sovereignty, global multilateralism, greening and digitalisation. Surprisingly or not, all these topics are on the agenda of the Conference that will begin in May 2021.
The business sector has a huge role to play in building the community system. Not only job creation, so necessary for European citizens, but especially through their involvement in major integration projects. The European internal market and the launch of the common euro were achieved with the help of the private sector. Paradoxically, however, the political leaders tried in 2002-2005 to establish the draft European constitution, without involving the European business. Result - zero! Speaking recently with representatives of multinationals in Brussels, they are faced with a positioning dilemma. "We love the internal market, but it is difficult to come up with a pro-European message. At the corporate level, the European Commission, in particular, is seen as a ferocious hand that imposes new legislation non-stop. In this context, there is a repulsion towards the European institutions… "
Let me therefore launch 12 points for reflection on the debate on the future of the EU:
- How much do national leaders believe in the evolution of the EU?
- Will there be a real debate between Brussels and the European capitals?
- Will there be a cooperation of the Franco-German binomial, considering that in both countries elections will take place over the next 12 months?
- How will the two camps interact, that of the federalists with that of the Euro-sceptics?
- How do we change (evolve) the EU without changing the European treaties?
- Will the project go in the direction of an enlarged EU or a hard European core?
- Will citizens trust this debate or will they classify it directly as a technical, uninteresting approach?
- How will anti-system movements act in these debates?
- What is the role of European political parties in this consultation?
- What impact will this debate have on the European budget?
- Will the private sector really get involved in the discussion?
- Will the European Commission allocate the necessary human resources as it did in the Brexit case, for example?
Dan LUCA / Brussels