EU conference focuses on deeper integration, rights withdraw – POLITICO

European politicians at a conference on reshaping the EU signed a blueprint for deeper integration on Saturday, prompting a group of right-wing MPs to back out of the project.

The Future of Europe Conference was set up last year with the aim of bringing together citizens and politicians from across the EU to brainstorm ideas for an overhaul of the bloc.

At a session in Strasbourg on Saturday, the conference plenum — composed of representatives of the EU institutions, national parliaments and citizens’ bodies — authorized more than 300 suggestions. These include the abolition of national vetoes, granting the European Parliament the right to propose legislation, more investment in climate protection, the introduction of “joint armed forces” and transnational electoral lists.

The text notes that there were “differences of opinion” on whether the accession of new EU countries should still require the unanimous consent of current members and “differing views” on “to what extent there should be a common armed forces”.

“I am really touched today because this is a historic moment for our European democracy,” Dubravka Šuica, EU Commissioner for Democracy and Demography, told reporters. “I am more than happy because we engaged citizens [were] very engaging and they really surprised me.”

The proposals now go to the conference Boardwhich is expected to present the final report to the presidents of the EU institutions on May 9th. How much of the plans becomes a reality depends in large part on EU member state governments, many of which have not expressed much enthusiasm for the project.

“There was a lot of skepticism at the beginning of this whole process,” said MEP Guy Verhofstadt of the group Renew Europe, co-chair of the board alongside Šuica. But now, he argued, “everyone has seen that it was a very serious undertaking and … a very promising way forward for the European Union.”

A wide range of European lawmakers – from the centre-right European People’s Party to the parliamentary group Die Linke – backed the proposals.

“The state #Europe becomes reality!” tweeted Green MEP Niklas Nienass. “This will shape the world forever!”

But that’s not music to everyone’s ears.

MEPs from the right-wing Identity and Democracy (ID) and European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) groups. refused to support the proposals, arguing that they do not reflect public opinion in the EU.

“The choice of citizens to take part in the conference was itself very flawed,” said the ECR group in a Explanation. “Research shows that citizens who support a more centralized union are much more likely to accept an invitation to attend the conference’s citizens’ panels than those who are more skeptical.”

The group said they opposed “the idea.”

“Getting out of this farce was the only right step,” called Swedish ECR MEP Charlie Weimers on Twitter. EU conference focuses on deeper integration, rights withdraw – POLITICO

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