Policy Study

13/11/2023

With the debate around EU treaty changes back on the agenda, a group of renowned European experts from a large diversity of countries and disciplines, and after two years of systematic work, launch an innovative report on the topic: ‘EU Treaties – Why they need targeted changes. An approach based on European public goods, citizenship and democracy’.

The EU leaders’ Granada Summit declared that the EU needs to lay the necessary internal reforms for enlargement, a recent Franco-German report about this issue is being discussed and the European Parliament is about to vote on its report for amendments in the EU Treaties. In fact, enlargement is not the only reason why EU Treaties should be updated. 

A comprehensive and precise approach is proposed by this new expert report on ‘EU Treaties: Why they need targeted changes’ highlighting the new public goods which can only be provided at the EU level. This report is authored by 14 renowned experts on European constitutional law, political science, political economy and other different EU policies from across Europe, including Maria João Rodrigues, one of the architects and final negotiator of the Lisbon Treaty, and Daniela Schwarzer, one of the rapporteurs and authors of the Franco-German report.

The EU project is confronted with a radically new context: war in our continent and neighbourhoods, geopolitical rivalry, the climate emergency, a cost of living crisis, the pandemic experience, tensions about migration, misinformation disturbing democracies. The need for a stronger European capacity to act is evident on all these fronts and the current EU Treaties show their limits. The time has come to reassess them and identify some targeted changes. Recent developments are building up momentum for this, notably war, the enlargement as geopolitical imperative, the need to prepare it with EU internal reform as well as the aspirations expressed by the Conference on the Future of Europe”, says Maria João Rodrigues, coordinator of the expert group and President of FEPS. 

Among many other proposals, the report identifies the policy fields requiring an extension of the qualified majority voting and the co-decision with the European Parliament; as well as the policy fields requiring an upgrade of EU competencies, such as health or industrial policies, energy and food security, regarding the global negotiations about the climate emergency and AI governance.

It also identifies a list of new European public goods, such as a European electric grid, public digital infrastructure, data space and cloud services, a civil protection mechanism, a brevet for digital skills, an unemployment reinsurance, a rare diseases insurance, a European public procurement platform and a consistent EU external position in different fronts. Crucially, these vital European public goods can only be delivered based on Treaty changes, as argued in this report.

In the report, five major reasons are identified to justify targeted treaty changes:

  • More security and strategic autonomy regarding peace, energy, food, critical materials and digital transformation
  • Stronger European drive to conduct the green transition and the digital transformation while tackling new social inequalities
  • A larger scale investment capacity at the EU and national levels backed by sources of taxation
  • A more attractive EU democracy in its representative and participatory components based on European citizenship
  • Enlargement as a new geo-political imperative

Against this background, the publication makes precise proposals to promote three key strategic priorities to develop the European project: strengthening the EU sovereignty and capacity to act; creating effective means to deliver European public goods to guarantee internal cohesion; and ensuring a more democratic ownership based on a stronger European citizenship. 

This report garnered attention in the media, such as in Le Monde and InfoLibre.

Background

The debate around the EU treaty changes is fully back on the agenda, as recent developments prove, such as:

  • The final declaration adopted by EU leaders in the informal EU Council in Granada: “Enlargement is a geo-political investment in peace, security and prosperity (…) In parallel, the Union needs to lay the necessary internal ground and reforms”
  • The EU Parliament report “on proposals for the amendment of the Treaties”, to be voted on in the November EP Plenary session
  • The Franco-German report “Sailing on high seas: Reforming and enlarging the EU for the 21st Century”
  • The manifesto “The European Union at the time of a New Cold War”, calling for EU Treaty changes to deliver new European public goods, signed by renowned European personalities such as Jean-Claude Juncker or Herman Van Rompuy

Authors of the Report ‘EU Treaties – Why they need targeted changes. An approach based on European public goods, citizenship and democracy’

  • Maria João Rodrigues – Coordinator. FEPS President, former Member of the EP, Employment Minister of Portugal, Chair of the European Commission Advisory Board for Social Economic Research, final negotiator of the Lisbon Treaty
  • Vytenis Andriukaitis. Former EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, former national Minister in Lithuania and member of the Convention on the Future of Europe
  • Mercedes Bresso. Member of the EP, President of the Union of European Federalists, President of the Committee of the Regions and President of the Piemonte Region
  • Stefan Collignon. Professor, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok and European Institute, London School of Economics
  • Gabriela Cretu. Romanian Senator, former Member of the EP
  • Marianne Dony. President of the Center of European Law, former Professor of EU Constitutional Law and President of the Institute for European Studies, Université Libre de Bruxelles
  • Giovanni Grevi. Senior fellow, CSDS, Brussels School of Governance, and visiting professor, College of Europe, Bruges, and Sciences Po, Paris
  • Robin Huguenot-Noël. PhD researcher in Political Economy at the European University Institute
  • Guillaume Klossa. Executive President of Europa Nova, special advisor of the EU Commission and author of the EC Report “An industrial media strategy to leverage data, algorithms and artificial intelligence”
  • Jo Leinen. Former Member of the EP, Honorary President of the European Movement International
  • Diego Lopez Garrido. Former Secretary of State for European Affairs in Spain, Director of Fundación Alternatives
  • Jernej Pikalo. Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in Slovenia, Professor of Political Science
  • Daniela Schwarzer. Member of the Bertelsmann Stiftung Executive Board, former Director of DGAP, Honorary Professor of political science at Freie Universität Berlin
  • Britta Thomsen. Board member of the EU Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators and former Member of the EP
  • François Balate. Former Head of Office of the FEPS President, former Director for Policy & Advocacy of the European Youth Forum
  • Christian Salm. Head of Office of the FEPS President, Former policy researcher and analyst of the EP Research Service

Event at the European Parliament

On November 16 at the European Parliament, FEPS and S&D Group organised a Symposium on ‘EU treaties- Why they need targeted changes’. Some of the most prominent MEPs subscribing to the EP Report, and some of the authors of the FEPS report were among the speakers.

This event took place on the eve of the EP Plenary that voted on a crucial report of this legislature, calling on the European Council to convene a European Convention to work on the update of the European Treaties. This EP report reflects the aspirations that European citizens expressed through the Conference on the Future of Europe, and that can only be met with targeted treaty changes. 

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