UEF President’s statement on Ukraine

​​Brussels, 23 February 2022

Tensions between Ukraine and Russia are at their highest in years, with a Russian troop build-up near the two nations’ borders spurring fears that Moscow could launch an invasion. The current crisis has been provoked by an ongoing Russian military build-up in and around Ukraine, as well as the destabilising use of hybrid attacks, including disinformation and cyber-attacks, on Ukrainian government institutions.

This week, EU Member States have given their political agreement for a new package of sanctions against Russia, after Putin’s decision to recognise the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and sending troops to these areas. This decision violates the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia is not respecting its international obligations, and it is violating core principles of international law.

UEF welcomes the EU’s package of sanctions. We stand with Ukraine and its citizens and reaffirm unequivocal support to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. Ukraine is a free and sovereign country and the EU must continue to stand by its side.

We must act on a double track: the first one, the one related to the urgency, to respond with sanctions to Putin and pursue the diplomatic option. If the EU pursues and increases the sanctions, a compensation mechanism must be created in favour of the affected EU firms.

At the same time, in parallel, we must take steps forward on the military and energy autonomy of Europe. A federal EU whose foreign policy was not subject to individual veto threats would be more effective. This new crisis is an opportunity for the EU to become more mature, sovereign and an independent global actor, who act rapidly and robustly whenever a crisis erupts, with partners if possible and alone when necessary. We are eagerly awaiting the EU’s new Strategic Compass document – now needed more urgently than ever – and a follow up on the Conference on the Future of Europe conclusions that might lead to a more democratic, sovereign and stronger EU in the world.

Sandro GOZI
UEF President

MAKE EUROPE BLOOM: The Time is Now! – Survey Greece

Dear federalist friends, 

We are writing to you today with regards to the UEF’s MAKE EUROPE BLOOM: the Time is Now! project, co-funded by the European Parliament. 

As you already know, this project is contributing to raising awareness on the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) and setting up the new European Bauhaus by mirroring citizens’ feelings on Europe through art. In order to meet our innovative approach, we count on renown urban artist Antonyo Marest. With your contributions we will be painting murals in different cities across Europe.

In our next stop in Piraeus, Greece, we will be painting a mural based on the idea of « Climate change and the environment », one of the topics of the CoFoE.

We would like to ask you to answer the questions below so that we can paint the future Europe together! #MakeEuropeBloom

SURVEY

Warm federalist regards,

UEF Secretariat

Letter by UEF President Sandro GOZI

Brussels, 21 February 2022


Dear federalist friends,

The Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) has entered its hot political phase and I want to express my appreciation for your dedication and commitment. 

Being present in a structured and effective way, as well as being recognisable on the CoFoE Multilingual Digital Platform with our proposals, became a necessary condition both for conveying its political message and for enhancing meetings on the ground at all levels. The aim was to be influential in order to condition future decision-making processes, to bring out the drive for reform of the European Treaties, unavoidable if it emerged from the debate and the requests of citizens, on the platform – the only tool at our disposal to convey ideas and political message. From there, we, federalists, conveyed both to the European citizens’ panels and, above all, to the plenary session.

With a view to a debate aiming at advancing federalist demands, we encouraged our Sections and Members to organise debates linked to our political proposals on the platform. For nearly a year, you have been boosting your efforts to raise awareness about this positive momentum, with a view to engage citizens directly, and to gain wider support for our ideas, projects, and proposals. Therefore, I wish to thank you  for crowding the squares of your cities and towns, for organising conferences and workshops in schools, universities, and inside your sections.

During this past year, we have seen enormous growth in the support and visibility of federalist ideas, especially those aimed at strengthening European Democracy. You have been integral to the important advances we have made, particularly promoting a stronger pan-European democracy — real European political parties and movements and proper campaigns for European elections, based on the creation of a pan-European constituency and transnational electoral lists headed by the candidates for President of the European Commission. Moreover, we have also called for the need for a political and fiscal Union that can tackle the great transnational challenges of our time, acting decisively on a wide range of policy areas, from climate change, growing social inequalities, health and migration to foreign affairs and defense.

Our collective efforts together with JEF and the Spinelli Group, yielded a great outcome for the federalist ideas in the CoFoE Multilingual Digital Platform. This was only possible through your commitment of time and effort, which was especially notable during this final rush campaigning together for a more sovereign, democratic and federal Europe.Again, I would like to thank you for all your invaluable contributions and your continued commitment to the federalist values and mission of our organisation.
Yours faithfully,

Sandro GOZI
UEF President

INVITATION au 1er Colloque fédéraliste – 06.03.2022 – Plus d’Europe grâce aux régions transnationales

EINLADUNG 1. Föderalistisches Kolloquium | Mehr Europa durch transnationale Regionen

En coopération avec Forum EUROPA, fondation sans but lucratif, Luxembourg, l’Académie Européenne d’Otzenhausen et d’autres partenaires européens de la Grande Région et de la Région du Rhin Supérieur, l’Union des fédéralistes européens de la Sarre (Europa-Union Saar) invite les citoyens intéressés à un colloque le dimanche 6 mars 2022, de 9h30 à 13h30.

En collaboration avec des experts politiques et scientifiques, nous souhaitons réaliser une expérience de pensée : Comment faire pour que la Grande Région et la Région métropolitaine trinationale du Rhin Supérieur deviennent les germes de nouvelles collectivités territoriales européennes, au sein desquelles l’Union européenne de demain peut être construite ?

Veuillez consulter le programme ci-dessous pour toute information complémentaire. En cliquant ici, vous accédez au formulaire d’inscription. En cas de problèmes techniques, vous trouverez également toutes les informations sur le colloque sur notre site web : www.eu-saar.de. Cet événement est soutenu par Forum EUROPA a.s.b.l., fondation sans but lucratif (Luxembourg). Nous la remercions chaleureusement pour son soutien.

THE TIME IS NOW – COFOE, issue 3/22

Make sure your voice is heard. Never wait for somebody else to talk for you. You have a voice that can be as loud and the integrity of your argument can matter.” – Roberta Metsola, EP President

THE TIME IS NOW, UEF’s fortnightly newsletter on the Conference on the Future of Europe!
Issue 3/2022

Learn more about the Conference’s latest news and activities related to rebuilding the EU!

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PANEL RECOMMENDATIONS ON EU IN THE WORLD AND MIGRATION

The final meeting of the fourth European Citizens’ Panel took place on 11-13 February 2022 in Maastricht, the Netherlands.

On Sunday, the European Citizens’ Panel on ‘EU in the world / Migration’ voted through its 40 recommendations for the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE). The Panel worked around five work streams: self-reliance and stability; the EU as an international partner; a strong EU in a peaceful world; migration from a human perspective; and responsibility and solidarity across the EU. The Panellists’ recommendations stem from their previous work carried out during two sessions, held in Strasbourg on 15-17 October 2021 and online on 26-28 November.

The third and final meeting of the Panel, comprising around 200 people of different ages and backgrounds, from all Member States, was hosted by the European Institute of Public Administration in Maastricht and Studio Europa Maastricht. 

Source: Multimedia Center, European Parliament

Migration

After exchanging views on all aspects of migration, panellists recommended measures to address its causes and regulate it in a humanitarian way, to better integrate refugees and to share responsibilities among all EU countries.

Participants noted that migration is not necessarily a problem. They proposed giving access to the European labour market to asylum seekers with relevant qualifications and improving conditions for workers migrating within the EU.

Inequalities along external EU borders were also highlighted. To address that, participants recommended that the European border agency Frontex is reinforced and made more transparent.

The EU in the world

The EU’s dependence on imports of strategic goods, such as medicines, semiconductors, energy and food, was a major concern. The panel recommended better support for local production and increasing the output of renewable energy in order to reduce dependency “to the largest possible extent”.

It also proposed that most decisions in the field of foreign affairs be taken by qualified majority instead of unanimity to speed up responses to crises and to consolidate the EU’s presence in the world through a united front.

The EU should also apply restrictions to imports from countries that don’t comply with ethical or environmental criteria and promote values like human rights and democracy abroad, panellists recommended.

METSOLA: “MAKE SURE YOUR VOICE IS HEARD”

Parliament President Roberta Metsola answered questions live on social media about health, climate change and inequality

Engaging young people in the future of the EU

As only the third woman to lead the European Parliament, President Metsola said she is grateful to the women who came before her for breaking barriers. Her advice to young girls is: “Make sure your voice is heard. Never wait for somebody else to talk for you. You have a voice that can be as loud and the integrity of your argument can matter.”

She invited young people to express their ideas on Europe by participating in the CoFoE. “Send your messages, we will listen to them. It’s our responsibility, because in 2024 I need to convince [everyone], together with my colleagues here, that this place is worth keeping, because we are working for you,” she said, referring to the European elections.

Strengthening Parliament’s role in the EU

Metsola said Parliament has a “golden opportunity” to transform into a modern, effective and efficient institution and to draw lessons from the pandemic. She stressed Parliament wants the power to propose new laws, because Europeans want it to do more as the only directly-elected EU institution. “Let’s make sure we don’t hide behind political inability or unwillingness by saying there is no solution.”

MATTARELLA AND THE FUTURE OF EUROPE 

President Sergio Mattarella, who was just re-elected for a second mandate, pro-European sentiments have recently been witnessed during a ceremony on the island of Ventotene in August where: he paid homage to the grave of Altiero Spinelli (co-author of the Ventotene Manifesto), who was in confinement on the island during the fascist regime.

Mattarella also endorsed the CoFoE. This deliberative democracy experiment “cannot be a grey passage with no historical vision, but must be an opportunity to define, with courage, a Union that is a protagonist in the international community,” the president said.

THE MAASTRICHT TREATY ANNIVERSARY

In 1984, the European Parliament adopted the draft of a European Constitution, which could still solve problems the EU faces today: nearly completely abolishing national vetoes, deciding the EU budget by Parliament and Council together, the EU court checking member states on questions of human rights and the rule of law, health and other societal policies to be a shared competence between EU and member states.

This courageous move 38 years ago is a wake-up call to pro-Europeans while the CoFoE is entering into its decision-making phase.

On 14 February, UEF, the Spinelli Group, JEF Europe and Movimento Europeo Italia organised an event to commemorate the Spinelli Draft Treaty’s approval by the European Parliament in 1984. We counted with current MEPs and renowned witnesses to explain the key features of the so-called Spinelli Project and how it can still inspire the future of Europe today.

Find here the full statement and here you can rewatch the discussion.

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DELEGATION TO THE COFOE

On 9 February, the parliamentary delegations to CoFoE had their first joint debate, focusing on European democracy and EU decision-making.

The European Parliament hosted the first joint meeting of EU and national parliamentarians participating in the CoFoE. The purpose of the meeting is to foster closer collaboration between MEPs and MPs, and to take stock of the recent Conference Plenary session that considered the recommendations from two European Citizens’ Panels and National Panels.

Strengthening European democracy

The first part of the meeting, chaired by Pieyre-Alexandre Anglade of the French National Assembly, focused on the legislative powers and democratic control exercised by parliaments, European elections, and EU decision-making. Most speakers agreed that, as the directly elected representatives of European citizens at national and EU level, MEPs and MPs share a responsibility to safeguard all democratic processes within the EU. Many spoke of the need to draw lessons from the application of the Maastricht and Lisbon Treaties, and to reform the EU to deal with challenges old and new.

In this vein, many supported Parliament’s call for a full right of legislative initiative. Others focused on the opportunity to establish transnational lists in European elections, debated proposals to directly elect the President of the Commission, and spoke on reforming the institutional roles of the Council and the Commission. Moving away from unanimity in the Council was proposed by many MEPs and MPs alike, as well as enhancing the role of national parliaments in the EU legislative process – with ideas for a revamped “green/yellow/red card” system for subsidiarity checks. Transparency in EU decision-making was another key point, with some speakers stating that citizens need to be able to know who among EU and member states’ institutions decides what. A few speakers took the floor to argue that the EU’s competences should be rolled back, calling for less European integration.

The EU’s role in the world and economic priorities

The second item on the agenda (chaired by Jean-François Rapin from the French Senate) included a debate on the EU Common Foreign, Security and Defence Policy, and on economic governance and the EU budget. Speakers focused on a broad range of issues. However, the common denominator for most of them was the need to tackle challenges posed by third countries, whether close to the EU’s border or in the international scene, through more efficient decision-making and effective coordinated action. Ideas brought to the table include moving away from unanimity in the Council, closer and more long-term alignment of economic and industrial policies, fostering strategic autonomy across multiple key sectors, and reviewing the role of the High Representative of the Union.

Citizens’ participation in democratic processes

The final debate, chaired by Parliament’s Co-Chair of the Executive Board of the Conference Guy Verhofstadt, was on the introduction of a permanent EU mechanism for citizens’ participation and consultation. Speakers took the floor to discuss lessons from the CoFoE’s structures and ideas like establishing a permanent online agora for EU citizens, a periodic consultation mechanism, and an obligatory “jury duty”-style call for citizens to engage in an EU-wide consultation process. Some speakers debated the appropriate balance between participatory processes and democratic representation.

NEXT STEPS

One of the four European Citizens’ Panel has yet to hold its final meeting, at the end of this month: the Panel on ‘A stronger economy, social justice and jobs / Education, culture, youth, sport / Digital transformation’ will adopt its recommendations on 25-27 February in Dublin, Ireland.

Eighty Panel representatives (20 from each of the four Panels, of which at least one-third is aged between 16 and 25 years) have been tasked with presenting and debating the recommendations of all Panels at the Conference Plenary, where the CoFoE’s final proposals will be shaped. The next Conference Plenary is set to take place 11-12 March in Strasbourg. 

There will therefore be four plenaries (two in March, and two in April, all in Strasbourg), as well as the concluding event to be held on 9 May.

The three Presidents of the CoFoE will make a common political declaration, to be prepared by the three Co-Chairs, at the concluding event on 9 May. Thereafter, the three Institutions should ensure an appropriate follow-up, with a GAC discussion, an EP resolution in June, at the European Council in June, as well as in the Commission’s State of the Union debate and legislative programme in September. The final report of the CoFoE should be concluded by the end of this year/beginning of next year.

Therefore, the four plenaries will focus on:

  • 10-12 March I: discussions on recommendations from Panel 1 (Dublin) and Panel 4 (Maastricht)
  • 24-26 March II: Presentation and discussion of the WGs’ draft proposals
  • 7-9 April I: Presentation and discussion of the WGs’ draft proposals
  • 28-30 April II: Plenary to adopt the CoFoE proposals
  • 9 May concluding event (preceded by a social event/dinner on 8 May): Presentation by the three Presidents and the three co-Chairs

In the meantime, and up until 20 February, citizens across Europe can also continue to take part in the CoFoE through the multilingual digital platform

It is time to make federalist voices heard! Join and help UEF to make an impact on the CoFoE by 20 February!

THE TIME IS NOW!

ARTICLES AND PAPERS

EURACTIV: With such members, who needs foes?

Hope for EU treaty reform springs eternal. Frustrated with the current state of affairs, the number of governments clamouring for the introduction of QMV in Council decision-making on CFSP matters has been growing. Perhaps the outcomes of the upcoming French and Hungarian elections, or indeed that other CoFoE, will tip the balance and lead to an alignment of European stars.

EURONEWS: Maastricht Treaty at 30: Pandemic brings unanswered questions back to the fore

The coronavirus pandemic, which sent public debt ballooning, has opened the door for reform that many consider long overdue.

EURACTIV: CoFoE should become permanent exercise into EU legislative process

Professor Kalypso Nicolaïdis (Chair in global affairs at the European University Institute in Florence) said that CoFoE, stakeholders have done the best they can do, but to make it a permanent exercise within the EU, there needs to be room for constructive criticism.

Former Members Association of the European Parliament (FMA): Our European Union – Time to be Bold, to Act, and to Deliver

Proposal from the FMA to the  CoFoE. The aim of this proposal, is to achieve a broad consensus within the FMA and its Reflection Group on the Future of Europe for a contribution to the plenary session of the CoFoE.

EURACTIV: CoFoE: EU citizens demand wider protection under rule of law

Citizens contributing to the CoFoE, the EU’s democracy engagement project, have made recommendations to widen the rule of law across member states, following views that there is a systemic conflictual climate between Poland and the EU.

EURACTIV: A European Union that serves its citizens

The CoFoE is the first example of the systematic and structured involvement of EU citizens in shaping future policies that will significantly impact and shape our lives and the lives of future generations. We entered this process determined in the desire for the result to be a reform of the union that will reflect the wishes and demands of the citizens.

L’ECHO: Macron, Draghi, Scholz… Le trio qui fera (enfin) avancer la défense européenne?

Une armée commune européenne est la condition sine qua non pour défendre les intérêts de l’Europe au-delà de sa politique commerciale et de son soft power.

EVENT – The Spinelli Draft Treaty 14.02

REGISTER HERE

The Spinelli Draft Treaty (14 February 1984 – 14 February 2022)

Monday, 14 February 2022 17h30-19h00

Dear federalist friends,

In 1984, the European Parliament adopted the draft of a European Constitution, which could still solve problems the EU faces today: nearly completely abolishing national vetoes, deciding the EU budget by Parliament and Council together, the EU court checking member states on questions of human rights and the rule of law, health and other societal policies to be a shared competence between EU and member states. 

This courageous move 38 years ago is a wake-up call to pro-Europeans while the Conference on the Future of Europe is entering into its decision-making phase. 

We invite you to hear some of the witnesses explain key features of the 1984 draft treaty. Current MEPs will comment how this can inspire today’s decisions. Join our hybrid event on 14 February 2022 17h30-19h00 either online or in 76 Allée de la Robertsau, 67000 Strasbourg, France.

Speakers at the event will include:

  • Pier Virgilio Dastoli, President of European Movement Italy, former secretary to Altiero Spinelli, lead author of this draft treaty
  • Heidi Marie Wieczorek Zeul, Social-Democrat MEP 1979-87, later German Federal minister for economic development
  • Jean Paul Jacqué, Spinelli draft treaty jurist
  • Monica Frassoni, former secretary general JEF
  • Enrique Barón Crespo, former President of European Parliament and European Movement International 
  • Jean Victor Louis, Professor Emeritus at the University of Brussels (ULB)
  • Danuta Hübner, MEP (EPP/Poland) and Member of the COFE
  • Katalin Cseh, MEP (Renew/Hungary) and Member of the COFE

UEF, together with the Spinelli Group, JEF and the Movimento Europeo Italia, suggest that pro-Europeans in Parliaments and the Conference on the Future of Europe open a debate about the method adopted by our EP in 1979-1984 and the gap between the main results of this parliamentarian common work and the situation of the European Union as it is now. The Spinelli Draft Treaty and its method and its content should inspire our work in the framework of the debate on the future of Europe. Find here the full statement.
 

Looking forward to the discussion!

With federalist regards,

Daniel FREUND, Pier VIRGILIO DASTOLI, Sandro GOZI,
Domènec RUIZ DEVESA and Antonio ARGENZIANO

It is time to make federalist voices heard!

MAKE SURE FEDERALIST VOICES ARE HEARD BY 20 FEBRUARY!

Brussels, 8 February 2022

Dear federalist friends,

About to conclude, the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) enters its hot political phase. 

Three interim reports on the multilingual digital platform have been prepared so far, since the Platform kicked off in April 2021, and have fed into the work of the European and national Citizens’ Panels and the Conference Plenaries.

Only contributions made on the platform by  20 February  will be taken into account in the report which will be published  on 17 March.

We must make sure federalist voices are heard, and the time to act is now. We kindly ask you to boost our efforts to raise awareness about this positive momentum, with a view to engage citizens directly, and to gain wider support for our ideas, projects, and proposals.

We therefore, invite you to refer to our ideas published on the Conference platform, that you can support and disseminate:

We must now take advantage of the Conference on the Future of Europe to move forward a more sovereign, democratic and stronger EU. As stated in the last line of the Ventotene Manifesto, the road won’t be easy, but we must strive to develop Spinelli’s ideas.

Find here a handbook on the CoFoE Multilingual Digital Platform. 

In addition to that, if you wish to upload – last minute – your own positions or events and if you need support, please let us know!

The contact person in the UEF Secretariat is Mariona Espín Onieva (mariona.espinonieva@federalists.eu).

Yours faithfully,

Anna ECHTERHOFF
UEF Secretary General

THE TIME IS NOW – COFOE, issue 2/22

“We should ensure politics serve citizens, this is the greatest contribution we can make for a better Europe. A follow up on their demands is the best way to pay homage to a great European and a friend, David Sassoli.” – UEF President and MEP Sandro GOZI 

THE TIME IS NOW, UEF’s fortnightly newsletter on the Conference on the Future of Europe!
Issue 2/2022

Learn more about the Conference’s latest news and activities related to rebuilding the EU!

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3rd COFOE PLENARY

On 21-22 January, the 2rd Plenary of the CoFoE took place in Strasbourg. About to conclude, the process enters its hot political phase. The Conference Plenary discussed citizens’ recommendations and ultimately will transform them into the initiative’s outcome.
The debates revolved primarily around the 90 recommendations by the Panels on ‘European democracy / Values and rights, rule of law, security’ and ‘Climate change, environment / Health’, and related recommendations from National Citizens’ Panels. 
The Panel on ‘European democracy / Values and rights, rule of law, security’ adopted 39 recommendations at its final session hosted by the European University Institute in Florence (Italy) in December. The Panel on ‘Climate change, environment / Health’ was hosted by the College of Europe in Natolin and the City of Warsaw (Poland) in January, where it finalised 51 recommendations within its remit.

Among the reccomendations of the citizens was the introduction of transnational lists in the elections to the European Parliament, composed of candidates from different Member States and which could be voted on throughout the EU. Due to the current debate in European Parliament this recommendation became very much the center of the debate not at least by the CoFoE-MEPs.

The citizens also recommend overcoming unanimity in the Council to approve certain measures and to give more powers to the European Parliament such as the legislative initiative. 

They are also in favor of reopening the debate on the European Constitution and changing the names of the EU institutions to clarify their functions.

Despite an interesting agenda, some of citizens who took part expressed their impression that the politicians were not really interested in following up recommendations fairly or concretely.

During lively discussions, panellists asked for “detailed and timely” feedback from politicians on all the panels’ recommendations. Sebastián GUILLÉN, a participant from Spain, warned that Europeans “don’t want you to be telling us you will do something that you will actually never do”.

“We were given a voice, we were listened to. Now, we need solutions, not excuses. Let’s work together to ensure future generations will be proud of us, not ashamed,” said Dorin HELL, from Germany.

Following the event, Conference co-chair Guy VERHOFSTADT said he was “struck by how confidently citizens defended their recommendations, if necessary even against experienced politicians”. “It’s based on these recommendations that we need to formulate proposals and conclusions for the Conference,” he said when opening the plenary.

Conference co-chair Dubravka ŠUICA assured participants that “there’s no reason to doubt” that their calls will be heard.

Participating MEPs and members of national parliaments praised the “constructive” contributions from citizens and said they have the potential to “bring real change” to the EU.

UEF IN THE PLENARY

The Union of European Federalists (UEF) was represented in the Plenary of the CoFoE with our President and MEP Sandro GOZI, Vice-President and MEP Domènec RUIZ DEVESA and UEF Secretary General Anna ECHTERHOFF as part of the EMI Delegation to the CoFoE. 

In the European Democracy Working Group, Sandro GOZI and Domènec RUIZ DEVESA emphasized the fact that citizens are reopening the debate for a future European Constitution. Citizens requested to build a stronger link between them and the European democracy, and the federalist MEPs explained to them different ways to achieve that goal – by electing directly the president of the European Commission, voting for transnational lists with European parties, giving full powers to the European Parliament and with annual citizens assemblies.  

In prepartion of the Working Group Meeting, the UEF had been asked by the Chair of the Working Group, Manfred WEBER (MEP, Chair of EPP Group), to introduce the discussion of the agenda item « Citizens’ participation and youth » with a report. In view of the lively and intensive debate on many points already during the presentation of the Citizens’ Recommendations, the Working Group decided on spontaneous proposal of the Chair to deal with this agenda item, which was actually further down on the agenda of the Working Group, directly afterwards. By this the really good exchange that emerged was not interrupted. 

In her presentation, the Secretary General of UEF, Anna ECHTERHOFF, then referred to the previous debate and the Citizens’ Recommendations and presented the perspective of the Union of European Federalists in her report. The top priority of the recommendations for reform would need to be the strengthening of European democracy. To achieve this objective, a real step towards a political union is needed. “This will require treaty change, which is already supported by some member states. And in line with the citizens’ recommendations No. 35 agreed in Florence, we should aim at a European Constitution. A European Constitution is necessary to adopt some of the reform proposals discussed in our conference. It is also the chance to simplify the EU’s institutional structure – a request expressed by many citizens. And a new constitutional process is a chance to engage more citizens in European politics”, said the UEF Secretary General.

With regard to the recommendations of the citizens, many similarities with the positions of the UEF could be found. These include, for example, the adoption of a new « electoral law for the European Parliament, harmonising electoral conditions » and complementing it with the « Spitzenkandidaten-Prozess ». She also stressed the importance of giving the European Parliament more powers in shaping EU policy (foreign policy, budget, taxation, …) and overcoming the frequent blockade in the Council.

In the Spinelli Group Caucus meeting, MEPs launched a new push for an EU constitution, arguing that EU leaders should heed the recommendations of the first citizens’ panel in the Conference on the Future of Europe. “We want a stronger Europe, more democratic, more reflective of daily needs of people, more ready to act and this requires changes to the current treaties,” says their declaration. The MEPs argue that following the French presidential election, there will be “a window of opportunity” for such ambitious reforms.

During the Conference Plenary, our representatives had the opportunity to discuss with the citizens’ on their proposals:

The main goal of this conference is to give voice to European democracy and experience it more directly, explained UEF President and MEP Sandro GOZI. In his speech, the UEF President encouraged his colleagues to build a real European political public space, directly voting for European political parties. Citizens would like to elect at least half of the members of the European Parliament through transnational lists, and we must follow up on their petition, added him in regards with the citizens recommendation.

“We should ensure politics serve citizens, this is the greatest contribution we can make for a better Europe. A follow up on their demands is the best way to pay homage to a great European and a friend, David Sassoli.”, concluded Sandro GOZI during the Plenary.

“Citizens are asking for transnational political parties with representatives from different member states. In the EP we are working on reforming the European electoral law, guaranteeing geographical and population balance when drawing up the lists.”, mentioned Domènec RUIZ DEVESA.

“We are at a watershed moment in Europe. We must work together, spare no effort and use all means at our disposal, to make the Conference recommendations a reality.”, added the Secretary General of EMI Petros FASSOULAS.

EU FRENCH PRESIDENCY

The 2022 French Presidency of the EU Council is set to go down in history as a moment of truth for the bloc. As such, it could mark the beginning of a new stage in Europe’s development. 

President Emmanuel MACRON has laid out the agenda for his country’s six months at the helm of the Council of the European Union. In his address to the European Parliament, he championed a bold and ambitious pro-European agenda.

The French Presidency will very likely give special impetus to the conclusion of the Conference on the Future of Europe, which should take place in the first half of 2022. The plan is for the Trio Presidency, in its role as member/observer in the Executive Board of the Conference, to draw on the outcomes of the various activities and citizens’ recommendations, outline how they define the future of the Union, and start the implementation process.

MACRON will propose, along with Germany, Parliament’s right to propose legislation.

STARS ARE ALIGNING FOR EU REFORM

2021 has been a year of transition and 2022 will be “a turning point” for Europe. The winds of change blowing from some member states are bringing the EU into a new era.

Germany has just turned the page on Angela MERKEL’s 16 years of leadership, France is bracing itself for an uncertain presidential election in the spring, and in Italy DRAGHI will continue as prime minister. MERKELl’s departure leaves a vacuum that MACRON, SCHOLZ and DRAGHI are trying to fill.

The stars are aligning for real EU reform, we believe that decisive steps will be taken in the federal logic as we understand that there is an agreement between the main political forces, especially between the virtuous triangle that would leave behind years of paralysis and hesitation.

We must now take advantage of the CoFoE, to move forward a more sovereign, democratic and stronger EU.

Read Sandro GOZI and Anna ECHTERHOFF’s opinion piece for EURACTIV.


SPECIAL EUROBAROMETER ON THE FUTURE OF EUROPE 

The European Parliament and Commission released a joint Special Eurobarometer on the Future of Europe.  As 2022 –  European Year of Youth – begins, the survey highlights the views of young Europeans on the challenges facing the European Union, alongside the key role young people are playing in the Conference on the Future of Europe.

European citizens remain continuously interested in contributing to and participating in the Conference on the Future of Europe. 

Overall, Europeans see climate change and the environment, health, as well as economy, social justice and jobs as key issues for the Conference.

There is a clear expectation that the Conference should lead to tangible results. Indeed, respondents would be most encouraged to take part in the activities of the Conference if they were convinced that their participation would have a real impact.
 

WHAT’S NEXT?

The two European Citizens’ Panels that have not yet delivered their recommendations are due to finalise their work in February. The meeting of the Panel on ‘EU in the world / migration’ (expected to take place on 11-13 February) will be hosted by the European Institute for Public Administration in Maastricht, Netherlands. The one on ‘A stronger economy, social justice and jobs / Education, culture, youth and sport / Digital transformation’ (expected to take place on 25-27 February) will be hosted by the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin, Ireland. Their recommendations will be debated at a subsequent session of the Conference Plenary in March and in the next Working Group meeting on 18 February.

During last week’s EP meeting, Clement BEAUNE stated the need for a quick follow-up on the CoFoE outcomes, hinting at the following timeline. Following the political event concluding the CoFoE on the 9th of May, the Council could hold a discussion on the outcomes during the summit on 23-24 June, providing a « first set of guidelines ». The EP could debate the outcomes and take a position during the Strasbourg plenary week of 4-7 July. The EC could announce plans and/or present initiatives at the State of the Union speech in September.
 

ARTICLES AND PAPERS

EURACTIV: ŠUICA: Commission will support changes to treaties if citizens ask
Citizens’ recommendations are “at the heart of the process” of the CoFoE, Dubravka ŠUICA said in an interview with EURACTIV. If the recommendations include changes to treaties, the Commission will support them, in line with its legislative role. 

CARNEGIE EUROPE: European Democracy Support Annual Review 2021
In 2021, the EU and members states put in place new policies and processes aimed at supporting democracy. This Annual Review summarizes how and where Europe is directing these funds, and what are the impacts.

EURONEWS: The Conference on the Future of Europe: « we wanted to listen to citizens »ŠUICA
Since May last year EU citizens have been able to have their say on how they think the European project is going. The CoFoE aims to build a stronger EU for the future.

EURACTIV: The EU must scrap unanimity to unlock its superpower potential
The EU is losing its relative significance at the global stage every day; while we have the potential to be a superpower, it must be unlocked by necessary reforms, such as moving to qualified-majority voting in foreign affairs, according to Dr Federiga BINDI, expert on the EU’s foreign policy at a Citizens’ Panel of the CoFoE.

EURACTIV: CoFoE: Citizens felt heard but recommendations were not debated as expected
Despite an interesting agenda at the CoFoE plenary at the EP in Strasbourg over the weekend, citizens who took part felt that EU lawmakers were not really interested in following up recommendations fairly or concretely.

EURACTIV: Too much democracy can be dangerous
The CoFoE prides itself on giving as many participants as possible a chance to speak. Unfortunately, this horizontal nature of the debate eliminates meaningful discussion of Europe’s future, writes Kaspar SCHULTZ , citizen representative of Estonia to the CoFoE.

EURACTIV: The Conference on the Future of Europe, explained (VIDEO)
The CoFoE is an EU democracy experiment where citizens across Europe are taking part in the EU policy making.

EUOBSERVER: Commissioner: Debate on Future of EU ‘cannot disappoint citizens’
Those EU citizens randomly-selected to participate in the CoFoE have so far shown an enormous appetite for structural EU reforms – including proposals for treaty change.

EURACTIV: Conference on the future of Europe: The fight over its conclusion and follow up
As the works of the CoFoE proceed, the clashes within the Conference become apparent. The last plenary provided an interesting example and a clarifying debate – Roberto Castaldi is the editor-in-chief of EURACTIV Italy and the research director at the CesUE.


POSTPONED // UEF EVENT – Reforming the European Electoral Law: Options for Establishing Transnational Lists

REGISTER HERE

Reforming the European Electoral Law: Options for Establishing Transnational Lists

Online Workshop on Wednesday, 26 January 2022, 6.00 p.m.

Dear federalist friends,

We would like to remind you to join our next online event « Reforming the European Electoral Law: Options for Establishing Transnational Lists ». 

In the evening following the Constitutional Affairs Committee’s decision on its report on transnational lists, we invite you to an online workshop on the reform of the European electoral law. The event is organised by the “Political Commission 1” of the Union of European Federalists in cooperation with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung EU-Office Brussels and the University of Passau. It will discuss the current state of negotiations in the European Parliament: How does its proposal for transnational lists look like? Does it have a chance of finding a majority within the Parliament and later on in the Council?

The workshop will also consider the impact of the current proposals. Expectations include that transnational lists will lead to truly European electoral campaigns, strengthen European political parties and a European public sphere. Does the current proposal have the potential to strengthen European democracy this way? Which changes would be useful to fully exploit the potential of transnational lists for European democracy? 

These and further questions from participants will be discussed with distinguished speakers.

AGENDA

Welcome 

  • Sandro GOZI, President of UEF; Member of the European Parliament
  • Julian PLOTTKA, Chair of PC 1, Union of European Federalists; University of Passau

Panelists 

  • Sandro GOZI, President of UEF; Member of the European Parliament
  • Domènec RUIZ DEVESA, Vice-President of UEF; Member of the European Parliament (tbc)
  • Dr. Thu NGUYEN, Jacques Delors Centre/Hertie School
  • Dr. Manuel MÜLLER, University of Duisburg-Essen 

Moderator 

  • Prof. Dr. Giulia ROSSOLILLO, Rapporteur of PC 1, Union of European Federalists; Università di Pavia

If you like to read more about the topic of transnational lists and UEF’s position on strengthening European democracy, we recommend to you:

  • Thu Nguyen: The holy trinity of EU elections: Transnational lists, Spitzenkandidaten procedure and a stronger European Parliament, Jacques Delors Centre: Policy Paper, December 2021, available here.
  • Manuel Müller: Making the Most of Transnational Lists. Electoral Equality at EU Level Through Proportional Compensation, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, available here
  • Union of European Federalists: Resolution of the UEF Federal Committee on a Declaration on the Conference on the Future Of Europe, November 2019, available here.
  • The Procedure File on Reforming the European electoral law, including the draft committee report, is available here

Looking forward to the discussion!

With federalist regards,

Anna Echterhoff
UEF Secretary General