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A conference for the Europe we need

Domènec Ruiz Devesa
Member of the European Parliament, Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE). Member of the Committee on Culture and Education and Committee on Constitutional Affairs.

Climate neutrality and the social pillar of the European Union should be part and parcel of the upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe. This Conference should make the voice of ordinary citizens and organised civil society heard – and it’s a unique opportunity to pull all strings together to build the political and social Europe we badly need.

In 2009, the Lisbon Treaty entered into force. It was a huge advance in the political integration of the Union. Thanks to the Lisbon Treaty, the European Parliament codecides together with the Council in more than 40 policy areas, we have the European External Action Service and the permanent Presidency of the European Council among other important aspects.

However, the world of 2020 is radically different than the global and domestic environment Europe faced only 10 years ago. During the Lisbon Decade, we have experienced the euro crisis, the increase of poverty and social precariousness due to the austerity programs and, as a result, the rise of national populism. Furthermore, instability in our near abroad has become the norm, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Arab Spring, and the civil wars in Syria and Libya which produced unprecedented levels of migrant. The narrow victory of Brexit in the 2016 referendum and the election of Donald Trump in the United States have added great uncertainty to the political scene. These developments have given birth to a disruptive international order. 

“The rule of unanimity in foreign policy, taxation and social affairs is paralysing Europe.”

In this new brave world, dominated by geopolitical competition, with continental powers such as Russia, China or the United States we need to be more united at home, in order to be stronger abroad. The rule of unanimity in foreign policy, taxation and social affairs is paralysing Europe. In addition, the EU needs to be more democratic in order to be more legitimate. It is unavoidable to fully exploit and update the Lisbon Treaty, in order to forge a federal political Union. This means qualified majority vote in Council in all policy fields, and a stronger European Parliament with full codecision powers (taxation, own resources and Multiannual Financial Framework), the right of legislative initiative and right of inquiry. We must introduce transnational lists to make the Spitzenkandidat principle a reality. We must safeguard our economy by completing the economic architecture of the euro (European Deposit Insurance and Eurobonds) and as Social Democrats, we must also fight for the constitutionalisation of the climate neutrality objectives and of the social pillar. 

Such a program is the one I believe we should defend as Social Democrats in the upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe that it is bound to start on 9 May. This Conference shall be a transparent instrument in order to make the voice of ordinary citizens and organised civil society heard. The European Parliament has proposed in its resolution of January 15 a broad institutional representation, in which MEPs are on an equal footing with the Council and the Member States, while ensuring the participation of citizens and the social partners. The mandate of the Conference must be open, therefore, including the possibility of reforming the Treaties. The Conference on the Future of Europe is a unique opportunity to build the political and social Europe that we badly need.

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