The European Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee adopted on Oct. 25, with the comfortable majority of 19 votes in favor from the five groups that had made up the Committee of Rapporteurs (EPP-S&D-Liberals-Greens and the Left), six against and one abstention, the draft report for the revision of the Lisbon Treaty to follow up on the recommendations of the Conference on the Future of Europe.
The draft report is expected to be debated and voted on at the plenary session in Strasbourg from November 19 to 23.
This is in our view a significant starting point but not an end point for the following reasons:
1) Should the procedure laid down in Article 48 of the EU Treaty be followed, after the draft report is approved in the plenary session, the Council should transmit it to the European Council, which is responsible for convening the Convention to revise the Treaty.
We know, however, that the large majority of governments believe that the Conference’s recommendations can be translated into policies and decisions at constant treaties, and we also know that many governments are currently hostile to convening the Convention and would like to opt either for a simplified treaty revision procedure that effectively excludes the European Parliament or to introduce treaty revisions in future accession treaties.
2) The draft report adopted by the Constitutional Affairs Committee contains many innovative elements on which the European Movement in Italy has repeatedly expressed its positive views, starting with the expansion of the Union’s shared or exclusive competencies through the extension of qualified majority voting in the Council and the strengthening of the powers of the European Parliament.
However, a number of issues remain unresolved that we consider essential, the positive solution of which would effectively pave the way toward a federal Europe. These questions relate in particular to the principle of allocating competences to the Union or whether they should be returned to the member States, a principle that remains in the hands of the governments for now.
The question of the primacy of EU law is not definitively settled just as the principle remains that the two Treaties, namely the one of a constitutional nature on the European Union and on the functioning of the European Union, retain the same legal value.
There is also no requirement for the Council to decide on legislative acts at first reading within a specific time frame thus making the use of qualified majority voting hypothetical.
The external relations of the European Union are then separated in the two Treaties maintaining confusion about the role of the European Union as an international actor, and the accession procedures remain unchanged in a system that marginalizes both the European Parliament and national parliaments and does not require candidate countries to clearly accept at the outset of accession negotiations the values of the European Union beginning with the Charter of Rights and respect for the Rule of law.
Finally, it still seems inadequate to us how the EU addresses the issue of migration policies with an almost exclusively securitarian approach and the social dimension where important areas subject to unanimous voting in the Council remain.
We will comment in detail on this draft report as part of our “Platform on the Future of Europe” when its consolidated version is available before the plenary vote.
We insist on the need for the European Parliament to convene an extraordinary session of the Conference on the Future of Europe (“agora”) involving citizens as “ambassadors of the European Union,” civil society networks and social partners.
We reiterate our conviction that, in the face of governmental immobility, the European Parliament elected next June should initiate a democratic constituent process by overcoming the obstacles of the intergovernmental method.
We reiterate the need that the reform of the European Union in order to start a process to complete its federal purpose should be adopted through a pan-European referendum before its enlargement, and that the framework of a European system of structured cooperation should be defined in case some member countries decide not to approve this reform.
Brussels, October 25, 2023