The report comprising draft changes to the Treaties was endorsed by MEPs on Wednesday with 19 votes for, six against, and one abstention. The accompanying resolution was adopted with 20 votes for, six against, and no abstentions. MEPs reiterate their call to amend the EU Treaties and ask the Council to “immediately and without deliberation submit the proposals […] to the European Council” so that a Convention can be set up.
Institutional reforms and a mechanism for EU-wide referendums
MEPs are urging for a more balanced system that would enhance the role of Parliament and modify voting procedures in the Council. By significantly increasing the number of decisions made through qualified majority voting (QMV) and ordinary legislative procedure (OLP), the Union would be better equipped to take action. Additionally, Parliament would gain the authority to initiate legislation and become a co-legislator for the EU’s long-term budget.
In addition, MEPs are calling for a reversal of the current roles of the Council and Parliament in the appointment of the Commission President (to be renamed the “European Executive”). Under the proposed changes, Parliament would nominate the Commission President and the European Council would provide approval. Furthermore, MEPs suggest granting the Commission President the ability to select members based on political preferences, while ensuring a balance in terms of geography and demographics.
The draft report calls for the implementation of a mechanism for EU-wide referendums on topics related to the Union’s actions and policies (including the approval of the current Treaty reform proposals), and to improve the existing participatory mechanisms.
EU competences and subsidiarity
MEPs want to establish exclusive Union competence for the environment and biodiversity and shared competencies on public health matters, civil protection, industry, and education. They propose the advancement of Union shared competencies in the areas of energy, foreign affairs, external security and defence, external border policy in the area of freedom, security and justice, and cross-border infrastructure.
Other reform areas
The draft report also includes proposals on:
- foreign, security and defence policy (sanctions and interim enlargement process steps decisions by QMV as well as a defence union with military capacity);
- the single market, the economy & the budget (tackling tax havens, QMV for taxation decisions, 5 year periods for the long-term budget);
- a social progress protocol;
- trade and investment;
- non-discrimination (expanding the list of protected vulnerable groups, referring to ‘gender equality’ throughout the Treaties);
- climate and environment (reduction of global warming and safeguarding biodiversity as aims of the Union, protection for the natural foundations of life, and animals, in line with the One Health approach);
- energy policy (an integrated European energy union);
- the area of freedom, justice and security (additional competences for Europol, gender-based violence and environmental crimes prosecuted under EU law); and
- migration (common minimum citizenship and visa standards, stronger border security measures , economic and social stability and availability of skilled labour).
The report is set to be voted on by all MEPs during the 20 – 23 November plenary session.