Conference on the Future of Europe: Citizens Call for Joint European Army, No Veto in Foreign Policy Matters

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Image: Council of the European Union/Facebook
Image: Council of the European Union/Facebook

A total of 184 citizens from all EU member states met in Maastricht on Friday and Saturday to formulate through smaller working groups, policy proposals on the topic “EU in the world and migration”. They voted on the proposals on Sunday, with a majority vote of 70% being required for their adoption. Only six of 46 recommendations were not adopted.

EU citizens called for establishing joint EU armed forces and also called for changing the way decisions on foreign policy issues are made.

Currently each member-state has a right of veto and EU citizens recommended making decisions by qualified majority, which is a major bone of contention between the proponents and opponents of further EU integration.

Its opponents believe it is a step towards turning the EU into a federation where the strongest members would be able to impose their own will more easily, while its proponents stress that unanimous decision-making prevents the EU’s affirmation as a global actor comparable with the USA and China.

Still, they propose that one should continue to make decisions on the admission of new members and changes to the Treaty on EU unanimously.

On the issue of EU enlargement, citizens concluded that it was necessary to consolidate the EU’s identity before new members joined.

They also proposed facilitating the introduction of sanctions against member-states, organisations and individuals violating the Treaty on EU.

In favour of common migration policy

EU citizens also advocated a common EU migration policy based on solidarity. They also called for replacing the Dublin Regulation with a new legally binding regulation to secure a just, balanced and proportional distribution of asylum-seekers.

They recommended establishing a single European mechanism for the import of labour outside of the EU in line with market needs, as well as strengthening the border protection agency, Frontex, and reviewing its work so far.

They underlined the need for greater transparency to prevent abuse in the treatment of migrants.

EU citizens also proposed greater production subsidies in the European farm, health and digital sectors, as well as in environmental protection technologies. They also recommended reducing dependence on natural gas and oil, and instead make larger investments on public transportation infrastructure and alternative energy sources such as hydrogen.

They called for restricting imports from countries that tolerate child labour, as well as greater control of possible human rights violations in the production of imported goods. They also proposed introducing “eco-rating” for all products to include the level of CO2 emissions from production and transport, the level of harmful substances, etc.    

Previously, as part of the Conference and after a panel debate in Warsaw, citizens adopted conclusions on health and climate policies, while at their first December panel in Florence they put forward policy proposals from the area of EU values and security.

The last panel will be held in Dublin, and recommendations from 800 EU citizens, chosen randomly by market research agencies to reflect the EU’s demographic and socioeconomic structure, will be considered by European institutions at a joint plenary session.

A total of 80 citizens, 20 each from the Conference’s four panels, will discuss the proposed policies with members of the European Parliament, representatives of EU governments and parliaments, European commissioners, representatives of unions, employers, civil society and others, at the plenary session of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

For more on politics, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

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