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Two years later, Brussels materializes Macron’s idea.
The EU launched the Conference on the Future of Europe on Sunday – a platform where any EU citizen can make suggestions on how the political bloc should change. The initiative also includes public discussions in the 27 member countries and a citizens’ panel – where participants are chosen at random, organized by the EU institutions.
Critics argue the project does not go far enough, while supporters describe it as a courageous act of institutional reform.
“Some people question who we are, who we are, and forget everything we’ve built. That’s what’s at stake today, it’s the risk of giving up, of not knowing what to do rather than build, ”Macron said at the launch of the event on Sunday.
Why is this happening?
An opinion poll published in January showed that the desire of EU citizens to leave the European Union has waned in recent years. The study by YouGov looked at data from June 2016 – when the UK voted to leave the political bloc – and January 2020.
In addition, citizens polled in Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden and Finland also became more optimistic about the bloc’s future during this time.
Nevertheless, the presence of anti-EU parties in the region is still a reality. This is evident in the upcoming presidential election in France, where far-right leader Marine le Pen is currently neck and neck with incumbent President Macron.
There are also unanswered questions about how the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing economic crisis will shape voter sentiment.
Luis Garicano, a liberal member of the European Parliament, told CNBC that the EU faces “two huge tests”, citing the Covid-19 vaccination campaign and the fiscal stimulus which aims to tackle the economic crisis.
“And the jury is still out,” he said, on how voters will assess the importance of the EU in these two areas.
In the 2019 elections, the majority of seats in the European Parliament remained pro-EU despite a wave of populist lawmakers. But the chamber has become much more divided, with the usual center-right and center-left blocs falling well short of a majority and needing other pro-EU parties to pass legislation.
With the next European elections scheduled for 2024, Garicano said that “the EU is really on trial” and that it “might be difficult” to keep the pro-EU majority in Parliament in the next elections, if there is. problems with the distribution of the coronavirus stimulus.
What can he achieve?
Some experts say that at the end of the day, the goal should be to update EU laws in what is called a treaty change. However, this is a very complex exercise and requires consensus among the 27 nations.
Contrary to popular belief, the success of the Conference should not be measured against its ability to push for changes to the Treaty. Rather, its success will depend on its ability to integrate new substantive political ideas and institutionalize democratic innovations, such as citizens’ assemblies, and to do so. at transnational level, ”Alberto Alemanno, professor of European law at HEC Business School, told CNBC.
“Once the genie is out, it will be difficult to put it back in the bottle,” he said, expecting more citizen participation in the future.