Conference on the Future of Europe: EP delegation sets out ambitious priorities

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.

At the inaugural plenary session on Saturday in Strasbourg, MEPs set the tone for the Conference Plenary debates to follow.

During his opening statement, Parliament’s Co-Chair of the Executive Board, Guy Verhofstadt, said, “I see the Conference as a relay race. Citizens participating in panels will start it by defining their wishes and recommendations. Then, over several plenary sessions, they will hand over the baton and we will formulate concrete proposals for reform based on their recommendations. The final stage of this race is to approve and implement these reforms through our democratic institutions.”

Watch the statement by Guy Verhofstadt or download the video with all three Co-Chairs of the Executive Board.

Speeches by the Parliament’s delegation set out a broad array of priorities. Most MEPs spoke about the Conference’s potential for reform, with many putting forward proposals for treaty change. A few doubted the Conference is going in the right direction – some consider it too ambitious, others say it is not ambitious enough. Nevertheless, virtually all agreed that the EU needs to change in order to respond better to crises and tackle internal and external challenges, and that reaching out to all citizens and shaping their ideas into concrete proposals is a top priority.

You can find excerpts from MEPs’ speeches below, and segments of the debate in the multimedia package. An edited video with excerpts is also available. The entire session is available here.

For more information on the day’s programme and next steps, read our press release here.

Manfred Weber (EPP, DE), said, “We need to discuss how to make Europe structurally fit for purpose. I doubt whether our foreign policy, for example, is strong enough to meet this challenge. There is the question of identity – diversity is potentially toxic if we use it against one another. […] The continent’s Christian nature is also important to me, and how we can shape Europe democratically.

Iratxe García Pérez (S&D, ES) highlighted that “we have a transnational community based on solidarity, prosperity and values. We have Erasmus students and trade unions, all sorts of different groups. We have to listen to all voices, and especially to those to whom we do not usually listen. […] If the Union cannot solve citizens’ problems, it has no reason to exist.”

“If we are to be the guardians of EU values, such as the rule of law and individual freedoms, we really have to defend them. We want Europe to address all the crises that occur, effectively and quickly. A powerful, sovereign Europe respected by its partners and feared by its adversaries. […] We need to look for new competences and skills for the Union. […] It is time to move away from vetoes and unanimity rules”, pointed out Pascal Durand (Renew, FR).

Daniel Freund (Greens/EFA, DE) sounded the alarm about the rise of illiberalism in Europe and called on the EU to deliver “on the big challenges of our time: climate change, taxing big corporations, defending our interests in the world and our values at home. The reason why the EU is not delivering on those is a design flaw, and that is unanimity.”

Hélène Laporte (ID, FR) said, “Our citizens believe that our Union is not very democratic. So the members of the panels must be selected fairly, representing political plurality, and their ideas must be accepted. [..] We want a Europe of cooperation […] respecting the sovereignty of member states in key areas such as health and social rights. The issue of immigration should not be avoided.”

Zdzisław Krasnodębski (ECR, PL) commented that: “The idea is to take a further step, to unify the member states, centralise some policies and take decisions together – perhaps undermining the principle of cohesion. […] Very often from Brussels or Strasbourg you cannot really see the real Europe, with all its different cultural, economic and social aspects.”

“We need to organise against free trade agreements and competition, against imposing austerity instead of allowing people to make this green transition a social revolution, and we need to protect our public services. For this, we need treaty reform, but if the Council is already against it, what is the point of having this conversation?” wondered Manon Aubry (The Left, FR).

With Next Generation EU, we showed courage but it is not yet enough. We need to overcome the obsolete fiscal compact, to make our common debt permanent, to put an end to unanimity, and to create a consistent federal budget to fight against our unacceptable inequalities”, declared Fabio Massimo Castaldo (NI, IT).

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Malaysia has achieved high levels of growth, but must do more to address governance and social challenges

ECB: Euro area should smooth out the consumption and income shocks of its members

The challenges of mental health among the Syrian medical students

Mexico needs a new strategy to boost growth, fight poverty and improve well-being for all

The European Parliament x-rays the troika’s doings

We’re all in the same boat on the SDGs. Here’s how we steer a course

Health conditions for citizens of Yemen’s key port city ‘remain critical’ says UN agency

An Eastern Wind

MWC 2016 LIVE: Verizon boasts momentum for IoT platform

UNICEF warns of ‘lost generation’ of Rohingya youth, one year after Myanmar exodus

State aid: Commission approves €53 million public support scheme for charging stations for low emission vehicles in Romania

The vital role played by logistics during humanitarian crises

EU Summit: Why was Poland isolated in opposing Tusk and the ‘multi speed’ Europe

Zero Pollution: Vast majority of Europe’s bathing waters meet the highest quality standards

COVID-19 Update: Solidarity and Joint Efforts Shall be the Main Theme For China and Europe in the Fight Against the Outbreak

We all have a ‘hierarchy of needs’. But is technology meeting them?

10 expert predictions for the next decade in Chinese AI

ECB offers plenty and cheap liquidity to support growth in all Eurozone countries

For how long will terror and economic stagnation be clouding the European skies?

Why age inclusive workforces play a crucial role in building back a better society post-COVID

The London City-EU connection holds despite of Brexit and the ban of LSE-Deutsche Börse merger

This start-up has developed a way for businesses to quickly compost food waste

Coronavirus: Commission starts testing interoperability gateway service for national contact tracing and warning apps

EU tax haven blacklist not catching worst offenders

MEPs want ambitious funding for cross-border projects to connect people

‘Let the children live’: UN prepares to ramp up food aid to Yemen as famine risk grows

Rule of Law: European Commission refers Poland to the European Court of Justice to protect independence of Polish judges and asks for interim measures

Strengthened EU export control rules kick in

China’s New Normal and Its Relevance to the EU

UN chief sends condolences to families of Malawi flood victims

Destroying nuclear waste to create clean energy? It can be done

A machine din

Just 24% of news sources are women. Here’s why that’s a problem

How defining intangible investments can help grow the knowledge economy

Chatbots are on the rise. This approach accounts for their risks

EU-wide penalties for money laundering: deal with Council

Do not confuse food charity with ‘right to food’, UN expert tells Italians, labelling food system exploitative

3 things you need to know about securing a blockchain

This is how Europe is helping companies and workers as the coronavirus crisis deepens

Europe led by Germany seems vulnerable to Trump’s threats

Cutting CO2 emissions from trucks: MEPs reach deal with Council

What is a gender parity accelerator, and how does it work?

Capital Markets Union: Commission reports on progress achieved ahead of European Council

Doctors and nurses around the world are calling in sick

The Commission offers exit from the EU budget stalemate

E-Government can be a remedy for the crisis

Nature is our strongest ally in ensuring global water security

Greening the Belt and Road is essential to our climate’s future

5 key themes for reforming the EU, as elections loom

Costa Rica has doubled its tropical rainforests in just a few decades. Here’s how

Parliament adopts its position on digital copyright rules

Canada has high levels of well-being and solid growth but trade tensions and housing market pose risks while inclusiveness could be improved

Coronavirus: Commission steps up research funding with €120 million for 11 new projects to tackle the virus and its variants

Acute food insecurity ‘far too high’ UN agency warns, as 113 million go hungry

The glimmers of hope in the latest dire climate report

Unemployment and stagnation can tear Eurozone apart if austere policies persist

Women and girls in science – from aspiration to reality

This forgotten chemical element could be the key to our green energy future

From inconvenience to opportunity: the importance of international medical exchanges

Coronavirus – here’s the public health advice on how to protect yourself

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: