Thursday, 28 September 2017

Future of Europe: relaunch through democratic conventions?

In the latest blog post we saw that Emmanuel Macron proposed democratic conventions to relaunch Europe, at least from the start of the En marche ! movement. As we saw, he has returned to this idea a number of times, but the substance remained vague ahead of the president’s speech at the Sorbonne.

The lack of clarity impacts the possibilities to discuss many issues related to the initiative regarding the role of EU citizens, the “democratic conventions”, so our next job is to check if Macron’s speech made things any clearer.


Sovereign, united, democratic Europe

Tuesday, 26 September 2017, the French president Emmanuel Macron spoke at the Sorbonne about overhauling and and relaunching political Europe, based on a strategic vision, an Initiative for Europe: a sovereign, united, democratic Europe.

The text of the marathon speech is complemented by French and English four-page summaries of the proposals. The hashtags #InitiativeEurope and #FutureOfEurope provide opportunities to follow the ongoing discussion about our common future.

Despite a lot of French twists, rarely have the leaders of the member states offered the citizens of the European Union lucid analysis packed with as many practical steps to take as Macron presented in his speech, proposals the current EU27 leaders are going to hear this evening. With enthusiasm, Macron has made the right choice between Myopia and Utopia.  

Macron wants to make democracy the essence of the European project. He wants willing governments to launch “democratic conventions” as an open, free, transparent and European debate, in order to relaunch the European project, but he did not add much organisational clarity to his earlier speeches:

C’est pourquoi, si nous voulons avancer à nouveau, je souhaite que nous passions par des conventions démocratiques qui feront partie intégrante de la refondation européenne. Je souhaite qu’une fois que nous aurons défini des termes simples d’une feuille de route partagée par les principaux gouvernements qui seront prêts à aller dans ce sens, nous puissions, pendant six mois, l’année prochaine, dans tous les pays qui le souhaitent, organiser autour des mêmes questions un vaste débat pour identifier les priorités, les préoccupations, les idées qui nourriront notre feuille de route pour l’Europe de demain. Remettre les choses dans le bon ordre, au lieu de demander, en fin de course, perclus de fantasmes et d’incompréhension, si c’est oui ou si c’est non, sur un texte illisible, écrit dans le secret, organisons un débat ouvert, libre, transparent, européen pour construire ce projet qui donner enfin un contenu et un enjeu à nos élections européennes de 2019.  

The directly elected European Parliament should become the heart of the European project, in part through transnational lists.

The “democratic conventions”, without democratic legitimacy but with potential for some interaction, seem to boil down to town hall meetings in willing EU member states. However, the substantial reforms require a stronger democratic role for EU citizens through the European Parliament.



Ralf Grahn