Crunch time – deciding on the future of the EU
After a politically hot summer post-UK referendum on EU membership, I don’t expect the autumn to be any less heated. There are a number of important discussions on the future of the EU coming up, with different institutions putting proposals forward – but who will have the final word?
Will it be the President of the European Commission, who on 14 September is going to present the State of the Union to the European Parliament? Distrust of the Commission has been growing stronger since the UK referendum, with eastern European countries using the opportunity to question President Juncker’s leadership. I believe that it will be hard for President Juncker to be heard beyond the European Parliament’s chamber.
Will it be the European Council, which will meet in Bratislava on 16 September without the UK? Far away from the EU’s capital, 27 Heads of State and Government will debate internal and external security, mirroring citizens’ concerns according to the latest Eurobarometer results where migration and terrorism are identified as the main challenges for the EU.
Will it be the European Parliament? Leader of the Liberal Members of the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt is leading a report on ‘Possible evolutions and adjustments of the current institutional set up of the European Union‘ and is pushing for strong institutional reform and deep EU integration. However, the European Parliament is not in a strong position to take the lead on this issue –Mr Verhofstadt’s report is non-binding.
I have to say that none of these options seem very tempting. I have serious doubts that proposals put forward by the European Commission, Council or Parliament will succeed as they ignore an important factor; people in the EU feel disenfranchised and distant from the political process. Top-down decisions are not enough to address the EU’s current crisis. This is why civil society organisations have been coming together over the summer to share what it is that our members, and their members, want from the EU. It’s crunch time for the future of the EU, and we need a new way of thinking – putting people at the centre of decisions is a vital first step.
Pierre Baussand, Director