Do you dare to amend the Treaty on European Union?

The prelude to this was the end of a year-long conference on the future of Europe, but its goals were not fully met. Even at the initiative of the French President, a conference on the future of Europe, which had been postponed several times, was launched, with two aims. On the one hand, it should have been based on the comments gathered to reform the European Union and set new directions for cooperation.

On the other hand, they wanted to strengthen the democratic legitimacy of the European Union itself, as criticism has often been voiced in the Member States that, although the people directly elect the Members of the European Parliament, the institution has, strangely, limited powers. At the same time the leaders of the union have only indirect powers, decision-making is complicated and civilians have little say in it,

At the conference on the future of Europe, a package of 49 points was finally adopted on 30 April this year, based on the motions collected and consolidated. NKE Europe Strategy Research Institute study proposals include the introduction of transnational party lists in European elections, a right of legislative initiative for the European Parliament (EP), which is currently held exclusively by the European Commission, and the abolition of unanimity.

However, the conference did not achieve its goals because a number of issues remained open. For example, the extent to which the European Union is being renewed. The most basic reform proposals – so the decision-making rules and amendments to the Treaties – there is no consensus, either between the political groups in the European Parliament or between the Member States, the latter being decisive.

Of the 27 member states, 14 states, including Hungary, disagrees, it will be difficult to reach the same platform on extending the EP’s powers or introducing transnational party lists. The the former face different problems with integration, while the latter is opposed by smaller Member States for fear of losing their mandate and thus their ability to assert their interests. However, the adoption of these amendments requires the unanimous support of the Member States.

The European Parliament will not leave itself

Although the changes are unlikely to be passed, last week the EP decided to take the initiative to amend the EU’s founding treaties and convene a European Convention to do so. However, there are two types of contract review procedures in the EU, Tamás Kende, an international lawyer, told Index.

One applies to the greater part of the EU Treaty and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and the other to a smaller part of the EU TFEU. This was differentiated by the Treaty of Lisbon, adopted in 2007, because it was believed that an ever-growing Union of more and more members would not be able to amend the EU treaties in the future. One of the reasons for this is that in many states, referendums must be decided and parliaments ratified. This process has not been smooth in the past, and they require unanimous decisions.

An associate professor at the Department of International Law at Eötvös Loránd University says that there are situations when it is simply not worth cutting into such a far-reaching initiative. There is a difficult period in the European Union now, there is a war in Ukraine and the rule of law is not without conflict. In other words, the current period is not at all suitable for initiating a contract review procedure.

And what is the European Convention?

The previous week az A resolution adopted by the European Parliament also called on the European Council to agree to a revision of the EU treaties, including a decision by unanimity by qualified majority, for example in the field of sanctions. The The resolution will be submitted to the Heads of State or Government of the Member States, who will be able to decide by a simple majority to convene a convention of MEPs, Commissioners and EU leaders.

Tamás Kende also drew attention to the fact that such a convention-type body has been operating in the EU several times. This was the case, for example, with the drafting of the European Constitutional Treaty in the early 2000s, which was not implemented. Although the treaty was signed and approved, it then failed in the 2005 referendums in the Member States, the Netherlands and France.

If it were to be defined, I would say that it is a joint body made up of representatives from the EU’s governing bodies and important politicians with an interest in the Union. “

After the convention, an intergovernmental conference is convened, and what really matters is not what happened at the convention, as it only plays a preparatory role, but what the intergovernmental conference nods to. Rather, the convention has a kind of political pressure. And in the current situation, the chances of such a process succeeding in the EU are very slim.

The international jurist does not rule out the possibility that the future of the EU will not start organizing the convention due to a package of conference proposals and some political pressure, but sees a zero chance of a successful process. In any case, in a significant number of Member States, these concerns are now a priority.

(Cover image: European Parliament Plenary Session in Strasbourg, East France, 8 June 2022. Photo: Frederick Florin / AFP)

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