Tuesday 26 September 2017

State of the Union: EU citizens, reform and future

Our customary check of the European Commission’s State of the Union 2017 web page, reveals no visible updates since yesterday and the language selection remains one out of twenty-four: English only. We return to the State of the Union 2017 brochure, where the next section is Citizens’ Dialogues (from page 97).

According to the brochure (page 98), there had been 312 Citizens’ Dialogues in all in the member states since the start of the Juncker Commission; of these 129 on the future of Europe since March 2017.

You can check upcoming and past Citizens’ Dialogues on the future of Europe on the dedicated Commission web page. Many of these events offer live streaming.

For a meaningful debate, shouldn’t citizens of the European Union know at least something about ideas for EU reform and the future of Europe being discussed? Or, are we past ideals about facts and civic responsibility?

Here a few references to the substance of the debate.  

Future of Europe

In addition to president Jean-Claude Juncker’s State of the Union 2017 address and related materials, including the draft Commission Work Programme (CWP 2018), the participants and other interested EU citizens can find relevant documents about EU reform and the future of Europe from the European Parliament (EP), the European Commission and the European Council (EUCO).

European Parliament resolutions

The three official EP resolutions are:

European Parliament resolution P8_TA(2017)0049 of 16 February 2017 on improving the functioning of the European Union building on the potential of the Lisbon Treaty (Brok and Bresso report; 2014/2249(INI))

European Parliament resolution P8_TA(2017)0048 of 16 February 2017 on possible evolutions of and adjustments to the current institutional set-up of the European Union (Verhofstadt report; 2014/2248(INI))

European Parliament resolution P8_TA(2017)0050 of 16 February 2017 on budgetary capacity for the euro area (Böge and Berès report; 2015/2344(INI))

Commission White Paper and reflection papers

The European Commission opened the debate by a so called White Paper (so called, because it did not contain concrete proposals):

White Paper on the Future of Europe - Reflections and scenarios for the EU27 by 2025; Brussels, 1.3.2017 COM(2017) 2025 final

The White Paper with the five scenarios was followed by five reflection papers on the future of the social dimension, globalisation, the economic and monetary union (EMU), defence and the EU budget (I leave out the annexes):

Reflection paper on the social dimension of Europe; Brussels, 26.4.2017 COM(2017) 206 final

Reflection paper on harnessing globalisation; Brussels, 10.5.2017 COM(2017) 240 final

Reflection paper on the deepening of the economic and monetary union; Brussels, 31.5.2017 COM(2017) 291 final

Reflection paper on the future of European defence; Brussels, 7.6.2017 COM(2017) 315 final

Reflection paper on the future of EU finances; Brussels, 28.6.2017 COM(2017) 358 final

Bratislava roadmap
In the European Council’s Bratislava declaration and roadmap the heads of state or government were determined to make a success of the EU at 27.

Under the Estonian presidency of the Council and chaired by deputy EU affairs minister Matti Maasikas, yesterday the General Affairs Council (GAC) prepared the ground for the 19-20 October European Council (EUCO), which is expected to discuss migration, Digital Europe, defence and external relations - themes with the potential for future oriented discussion. The GAC also discussed the priorities for the Commission Work Programme (CWP 2018), with the Commission expected to adopt the CWP 2018 in October. Before the end of the year, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission plan a joint declaration on legislative priorities for 2018.

Come Thursday, the EUCO president Donald Tusk is going to chair a dinner for the EU27 leaders ahead of the Tallinn Digital Summit. After mentioning a number of issues potentially important for EU reform and our European future, but without raising questions of the power of EU citizens or institutions, Tusk invited the leaders to an informal discussion about substance method and objectives.

Ralf Grahn

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