Treaty Change for a Federal Europe

Following the Conference on the Future of Europe and considering the crisis and present challenges in Europe, members of the European Parliament have put forward proposals to change and amend the treaties of the European Union (EU) in November of 2023

A call for treaty change can come from the European Parliament, the European Commission or a Member State. In 2023 the European Parliament formalised this call to change the treaties by calling a Convention. You can learn more about how this procedure goes in our infographic.

What does it mean to change the treaties?

The EU’s founding Treaties have been revised in the past, this is done to ensure the EU is able to  better tackle challenges, respond to needs of people and modernise in the face of a changing environment.  The last comprehensive Treaty reform was done during the Lisbon Treaty, which entered into force on the 1st of December 2009.

Treaty reform is carried out by triggering Article 48 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), which gives us several ways to do it:

Ordinary revision procedure – calls for a Convention where there are representatives of national parliaments, Heads of State or Government, members of the European Parliament, and the European Commission and where common agreement needs to be reached. This is the most inclusive way, as members of the European Parliament are part of it and there is the possibility that representatives of civil society are included in the process.

Simplified revision procedure – unanimous decision of the European Council. Civil Society and other representatives of citizens are not included.

Accession treaties for new Member States also offer an opportunity to revise the Treaties. Same as before, representatives of civil society and members of the European Parliament are not part of this procedure.

General passerelle clause – this is a very unlikely possibility to amend the treaties. It provides that the European Council may authorise qualified majority voting (QMV) in the Council in areas otherwise subject to unanimity, or to switch to ordinary legislative procedure where the Treaties provide for a special legislative procedure. The decision of the European Council needs to be taken unanimously and after obtaining consent of Parliament.

Why it matters

When reforming the Treaties we have an opportunity to change the EU and make it more democratic, inclusive and effective.  As European societies change, modernise and evolve our institutions at the EU-level must accompany us. 

If some of the reform proposals put forward by Members of the European Parliament in 2023 would be adopted this would mean:

Expand the  protection of human rights.

The EU would be closer to its citizens by giving more power to the European Parliament and introducing qualified majority in the majority of decision-making processes at EU level. This would facilitate decision-making and make it more effective, while moving away from intergovernmental methods. This together with creating permanent mechanisms for citizens to participate in European politics, would lead to a democratic system which is more resilient and unified to face challenges.

While many might say this could take away the power from member states, this would lead to the opposite – it gives greater weight in EU policy-making and legislative processes to citizens and their directly elected representatives, ultimately strengthening European democracy.

Improvements for the healthcare, education and social care by introducing a social progress protocol, common standards in education and common healthcare indicators.

These reforms would lead to a more functional and democratic EU, getting us closer to a federal Europe – a guarantee of universal human rights in Member States and shared freedoms and common democratic standards.

Timeline for Treaty Change

What JEF wants from Treaty Change

Formation of a federal Europe based on the creation of different levels of integration within the EU to be structured on three levels: the inner core, the current EU as a Union of Member States and the Associated members.

Read more in JEF Europe’s policy resolution ‘From a multi-speed Europe to a Federal Europe’

Urges the European Parliament to initiate the process of drafting a European Constitution to be discussed during the newly formed European Constituent Assembly based on the concrete proposals from the Conference on the Future of Europe for completing the economic, social, fiscal and political union.

Read more in JEF Europe’s policy resolution ‘Calling for a European Constituent Assembly’

The renewal of European democracy through the  European party families becoming genuine European parties. This process should be aiming to foster a European political conscience among European voters and a Europe-wide constituency.

Read more in JEF Europe’s policy resolution ‘From the lead candidate system to renewed European democracy’

European elections can only be truly federal if based upon three pillars, namely: truly European Parties, a renewed European Electoral Act (EEA), and a democratically composed federal European Parliament.

Read more in JEF Europe’s policy resolution ‘Towards truly European Elections through a renewed European Electoral Act’

Creation of a Fiscal Union at the level of the Economic and Monetary Union.


Read more in JEF Europe’s policy resolution ‘On the creation of a Fiscal Union in the Eurozone’

Building-up a Federal European Parliament (FEP) composed of two chambers, the first one being the Chamber of European Citizens and the second one the European Senate. The current Council of the European Union should be transformed into the European Senate and the current European Parliament into the Chamber of European Citizens. Both chambers shall have one permanent location determined by the respective institutions themselves.

Read more in JEF Europe’s policy resolution ‘The Structure of a Federal European Parliament’

What can you do

Speak up for treaty change in your country – many reforms that people are calling for can only happen through this process.
Join us on this cause and become an advocate for treaty change.
In the European elections support and vote for candidates that support treaty change.

Public statements from JEF Europe on Treaty Change


Christelle Savall, President of JEF Europe
Young European Federalists

Ines Consonni, Policy Officer of JEF Europe