Greens/EFA group on the “Future of the EU”

On 28 February 2018, the Greens/EFA Group adopted, for the first time, a comprehensive Position on the future of the EU in all constitutional matters. Download as pdf: 2018-02-28 Paper Future of Europe FINAL. This is a summary of the group decision.

Greens/EFA group position: Future of Europe, 28.02.2018

“National democracies can hold elections, but lack the strength to enforce democratic decisions on multinational companies. Only the EU can become globally strong for peace and human rights, protect citizen’s consumer rights, guarantee tax justice and call Google, Facebook, Bayer and Monsanto to order. Yet for Europe to deliver on its promises of democracy, prosperity and rule of law, we need to restore confidence of EU citizens into European Democracy. In the short term, we propose measures within the current EU-Treaties. In the longer term, we propose to use a constitutional process to build an even more solid fundament for the European Democracy. This set of 10 concrete proposals summarise specific and concrete ideas, in the AFCO area of competences, to illustrate our common vision and narrative on the future of the EU.”

Short-term: Restoring confidence and strengthening democratic legitimacy

1) Protecting the public interest by controlling the influence of the private interests

  • create a High Authority to verify financial interests of MEPs, Commissioners, members of cabinets and relevant civil servants
  • cooling off
  • mandatory EU lobby register, legislative footprint

2) Making the Council accountable, transparent and more democratic

  • positions defended by the representatives of the Member States in Working Groups should be made public
  • “Council should also overcome the impotency resulting from unanimity rule. Tax convergence, fight against tax dumping, tax fraud and tax evasion, decision on our common resources via the Multiannual Financial Framework, all those areas often lead to the lowest common denominator because of unanimity rule, to the detriment of social justice and wealth redistribution. … We must overcome this deadlock by fully applying, wherever possible, the ordinary legislative procedure with qualified majority voting in the Council”

3) Truly European elections for a truly European Parliament

    • leading candidates (“Spitzenkandidaten”)
    • harmonization of electoral rules, gender-balanced lists: “The common European Electoral law should include the basic features of any electoral system and shall be based on the principle of digressive proportionality while respecting the European diversity.”
    • transnational lists

4) Taking citizens participation and the rule of law seriously

  • review of the ECI regulation should ensure procedures are simplified and a real political follow-up is given to ECI that reach a million signatures
  • stronger instruments for securing our core principles and the rule of law in the EU, in particular a binding and comprehensive mechanism to monitor regularly the state of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in all EU member states by an independent expert commission
  • European Charter of Fundamental Rights directly applicable in all areas and all member states

5) Using the potential of subsidiarity through a constructive alliance of parliaments

  • A federal Union cannot be built against national and regional parliaments. We need to find a fair and efficient way to create a parliamentary collaboration.
  • introduction of a green card for national and regional parliaments with legislative powers and of basic democratic features in the different countries to make sure the parliaments control the position taken by their Member States in the Council and in the Eurogroup

6) Paving the way for a solidarity-based Union

  • Economic and fiscal policy set at the European level must be co-decided by the European Parliament
  • intergovernmental structures of the Eurozone such as the ESM must be deeply reformed and fully integrated into the EU and become fully accountable to the Parliament.
  • the Eurogroup should become fully transparent and be submitted to the Council’s rules of procedure. This includes the voting procedures, publication of minutes, results and explanations of votes and its deliberations should be public.
  • EU-Finance minister with triple hat as Presidency of the Eurogroup, of the Council formation on Economic and Financial affairs (ECOFIN), Vice-President of the Commission responsible for the Euro, individually elected, fully accountable to and replaceable by the European Parliament. S/he could be given new competences to coordinate economic and fiscal policies of Member States and a budget.
  • A fiscal capacity for the Eurozone members plus other EU members willing to join shall be created within the EU budget via enhanced cooperation to serve common investments. Those investments should be financed with a system of own resources but also by ending the tax competition with tax cooperation.
  • Even without a change of treaties, framework minimum rules for social security are possible, e.g. through a Minimum Income Directive. Therefore, work must start on the establishment of automatic stabilizers at eurozone level, opened to any Member State willing to join, such as an unemployment (re)insurance scheme or a rainy days fund and also on a minimum income system, set at 60% of national median income.
  • We urgently need to restructure Greek debt and start an immediate work on a roadmap for the gradual mutualisation of public debt between the Eurozone countries. All this is already doable by using the potential of our current treaties.

Long-term perspective: Building a truly European democracy

7) A Constituent process

  • to become a stronger democracy, EU needs a concise and comprehensible Constitution that protects fundamental rights, defines institutions and their powers, legal procedures and distribution of competences.
  • A constituent Assembly should be elected and the text it will prepare shall be validated through a European-wide referendum, according to a double majority system: a qualified majority of states and a majority of European citizens.

8) Our option: A bicameral parliamentary system for the future European federation

  • European Commission as government: candidates for the Presidency of the Commission will compete as leading candidates on transnational lists. The President of the Commission will be elected by the European Parliament. The composition of a smaller Commission will be determined by the President of the Commission without interference from the Member States. Parliament should have the right to replace the President of the Commission with a new one.
  • With fully-fledged right of initiative, the European Parliament will decide on an equal footing with the second Chamber (today the Council) on the budget and European legislation.
  • The second Chamber representing the Member States and, where relevant, regions, forms the legislature together with the European Parliament. It shall exclusively exercise legislative functions. It shall be composed of representatives of the governments or Parliaments, including where it is relevant at regional level, of the Member States.
  • This democratic Union will have a consequent and own-resources based budget to be decided in normal legislative procedure.

9) European Pillars of Civic, Economic, Social and Environmental rights

  • The Constitution should guarantee fundamental and opposable rights and objectives for the Union, related to civic, economic, social and environmental rights. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and such additional rights should apply also to the Member States actions and citizens should be able to defend them in the European Court of Justice. This will give competences to the EU to act in those areas and to react whenever those rights are violated in the Union.

10) An active European citizenship

  • The EU should get the competence to define the framework conditions for EU citizenship. It should set the conditions for becoming a European citizen (such as minimum years of residence) and it should intervene in case Member States grant citizenship rights on the basis of inappropriate criteria (golden visa).
  • In the long run, a European citizenship shall be granted by the EU, and no longer be a derivative of the national citizenship, called “citizenship of the EU”, to any individual living on the territory of the EU, irrespective of her/his nationality. A European citizen shall be granted the same rights and duties in its country of residence than a national citizen.
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