EU Treaties reform: MEPs submit proposals to strengthen EU capacity to act

©European Union, 2021, Source: EP – Multimedia Centre©European Union, 2021, Source: EP – Multimedia Centre
  • Towards a more bicameral, better developed, and more efficient legislative system for the Union
  • MEPs seek to enhance the EU’s capacity to act and strengthen citizens’ voice
  • Proposals for all policy areas with increased competences for the EU and realigned goals
  • Introduction of EU-wide referendum mechanism

The report approved by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs would form Parliament’s input at a Convention for the revision of the Union’s Treaties.

The report comprising draft changes to the Treaties was endorsed by MEPs on Wednesday with 19 votes for, six against, 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 call for a more bicameral system that would strengthen Parliament’s role and change voting mechanisms in the Council. The Union would be better prepared to act by considerably increasing the number of decisions by qualified majority voting (QMV) and through ordinary legislative procedure (OLP), while Parliament would gain a fully-fledged right of legislative initiative and become a co-legislator for the EU’s long-term budget.

MEPs also call for the reversal of the current roles of Council and Parliament in the election of the President of the Commission (which would be renamed the “European Executive”), whereby Parliament would in future nominate the Commission President and the European Council would approve them. They also propose enabling the Commission President to choose its members based on political preferences, while ensuring geographic and demographic balance.

The draft report asks for the introduction of a mechanism for EU-wide referendums on matters relevant to the Union’s actions and policies (including the approval of the Treaty reform proposals at hand), and enhance the existing participatory mechanisms.

EU competences and subsidiarity

MEPs want to establish exclusive Union competence for the environment and biodiversity and shared competences on public health matters, civil protection, industry, and education. They propose the advancement of Union shared competences 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;
  • education;
  • 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).

Next steps

The report is set to be voted on by all MEPs during the 20 – 23 November plenary session.