Calling for a European Constituent Assembly

Resolution submitted by the Political Commission 1 – Institutions and Governance
Resolution adopted by the online Federal Committee on 5 April 2020

JEF Europe,

  • Empowered by the positive result of the European elections of May 2019, which witnessed a significant increase in turnout led by young voters, and confirmed a pro-European majority in the European Parliament;
  • Concerned, nonetheless, that many European citizens still question the benefits of European integration and the idea of an ever-closer union, that they do not feel represented by EU institutions or turn to eurosceptic and nationalist parties;
  • Noting that the EU urgently needs a democratic renewal and to strengthen its internal and external abilities to meet current and future challenges, not least in light of the Covid-19 health crisis, and its economic and human rights consequences;
  • Aware that the Lisbon Treaty does not provide sufficient legal framework to progress towards political integration;
  • Deeply convinced that for the EU to deliver for citizens it needs to evolve into a fully-fledged federal Union;
  • Strongly condemning the increased use of the intergovernmental method in recent years, which has prevented the EU from acting efficiently on many challenges and has diminished the role of the European Parliament, the only directly elected institution of the EU, while contributing to the weakening of the citizens’ trust towards the European Union;
  • Recalling the JEF Europe Political Platform, last revised in 2017, which calls for a constituent assembly to elaborate a federal constitution and to put it to a vote in a pan-European referendum;
  • Aware that the EU commits itself to involving citizens and representative associations in all areas of EU action (Art. 11 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU));
  • Aware that the ordinary method for treaty revision requires the European Council to call a Convention (Art. 48(3) TEU), which can recommend amendments to the Treaties to be adopted by consensus by an intergovernmental conference (Art. 48(4) TEU);
  • Convinced that citizens should have a stronger voice in EU politics and that any  treaty revision process should rest on broad public debate and closely involve civil society and young people in particular;
  • Convinced that the Constituent Assembly as opposed to a Convention, has the potential to strengthen the democratic legitimacy of the European integration process by involving citizens in the process of reviewing or renewing the European legal and constitutional framework,  and illustrating the citizens’ responsibility for the future of Europe;
  • Convinced that the EU has to complete the economic, fiscal and political union outlined in the Blueprint for a deep and genuine Economic and Monetary Union (submitted by the European Commission in 2012) the Five Presidents’ Report: Completing Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union, the 2017 White Paper on the Future of Europe, the reflection paper on the deepening of the EMU, and the “Verhofstadt Report”;
  • Building on the commitment of the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, to hold a Conference on the Future of Europe to start in 2020 and last two years;
  • Aware of the European Citizens Dialogues, which have been organised from 2018 onwards;
  • Bearing in mind that the concept of the Conference on the Future of Europe has not yet been designed, as the Council has proven itself unable to agree on  a position, let alone start negotiations with other European institutions;
  • Taking note of the European Parliament resolution from 09.01.2020 and the European Commission Communication published on 22.01.2020 establishing the Institutions’ respective positions on the objectives, process and composition of the Conference on the Future of Europe;

JEF Europe, therefore,

With regard to the Conference on the Future of Europe

  1. Expresses its hope that the Conference on the Future of Europe must be seized as an opportunity to discuss and focus on important issues concerning the future of the European Union and that it is a step towards a real constituent assembly, as the process includes direct citizen participation;
  2. Welcomes the work of active Members of the European Parliament, who have pushed for Treaty change or a new Treaty in the position of the European Parliament;
  3. Urges that the Conference include representatives of EU institutions such as Members of the European Parliament, the European Commission, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of Regions, EU-level social partners, as well as representatives from national parliaments, and civil society organization and citizens;
  4. Strongly recommends that European citizens, civil society organisations, youth organisations should be involved in the process through citizens’ agoras, to be held on a regional, national, as well as European level, with citizens from different Member States to take part in the same agora. Furthermore, online tools and surveys should be also used in order to ensure inclusiveness and representation through the entire process;
  5. Welcomes the proposal of the European Parliament to organise a youth agora, as long as it is organised in a meaningful, inclusive and not a tokenistic manner;
  6. Calls for the Conference on the Future of Europe not to be focused solely on single policies, but centred on fundamental issues pertaining to the framework of the EU, such as the allocation of competences between the national and the European level, fiscal autonomy and the completion of EMU, sustainable development goals, fighting inequality, updating the labour market to the new digital society, safeguarding the rule of law, the role of the EU on a global level and the relationship between national identities and federal citizenship, opening up the debate on treaty change;
  7. Urges European institutions to give Europe’s citizens a true opportunity to work on Europe’s future by designing the Conference in a way that can create impact, is meaningful, and also gives feedback to the participants on how their ideas have or have not been taken into consideration;
  8. Calls on all European and national institutions and civil society organisations to make use of the Conference on the Future of Europe to continue public debate on the European, national and regional levels on the future of Europe, present their visions to the citizens and elaborate programmes for the constituent assembly;
  9. Highlights that the Conference should be a strong and decisive step towards a constituent assembly;
  10. Commits itself to organising a campaign, seeking out alliances with other civil society organisations, towards a meaningful Conference on the Future of Europe;

    With regard to a future constituent assembly 

  11. Urges the European Parliament to initiate the process of drafting a European    Constitution or, at least, a new Treaty, based on the concrete proposals from the Conference on the Future of Europe for completing the economic, social, fiscal and political union;
  12. Calls on the European Council to convene a Constituent Assembly to further develop the proposals of a European Constitution or a new Treaty, as indicated by the European Parliament;
  13. Calls for the Constituent Assembly to be composed of directly elected citizens’ representatives;
  14. Calls for the Constituent Assembly to take into account the outcome of the Conference on the Future of Europe;
  15. Calls for the Constituent Assembly to be held in the most transparent and accessible way, so that citizens are properly informed on the process;
  16. Calls upon media in all Member States to closely follow the Constituent Assembly and continuously inform citizens on its work;
  17. Urges that the Constituent Assembly should elaborate a Constitution setting up a Federal Europe, and ensure sufficient democratic legitimacy and accountability;
  18. Should there be no political will and support for a European Constituent Assembly, urges the European Parliament to initiate the process of Treaty revision, whereby a Convention would be called and the following intergovernmental conference (Art. 48(4) TEU) would be bound to respect the results of the Conference on the Future of Europe as the legitimate expression of the political will of European citizens’ and their representatives;
  19. Expects the outcome of the Conference on the Future of Europe to finally bring institutional renewal to the EU after years of deadlock, this will imply not only a discussion on treaty change, but elaborating a concrete proposal for a new institutional framework, which, by means of a democratically legitimized constitution, will give the possibility to Member States that wish so to join a federal core, based on the principles of multi-tier integration, while allowing, on the other hand, the possibility to other Member States to adhere only to the existing treaties;
  20. Expects the European Commission to commit to making legislative proposals incorporating the outcomes of the Conference on the Future of Europe, where the implementation of ideas emanating from the Conference does not require treaty changes;
  21. Expects the new legal framework to be a milestone towards a genuine European federation.

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