After the Conference on the Future of Europe – Moving into a new era

Janis A. Emmanouilidis, Johannes Greubel, Georg E. Riekeles and Corina Stratulat

Brussels 05/2022

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Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine is a watershed moment for Europe, challenging many of our fundamental assumptions. When the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) comes to an end on 9 May, EU institutions must not only decide on the follow-up to this exercise but, more fundamentally, give direction to the future of the European project.

It will require more than just a few well-intended Sunday speeches. The multiple consequences of the new era we live in have increased the urgency of policy reforms as well as institutional innovations in different areas. But the exact direction of travel is clearer in some areas (e.g. energy independence from Russia) than in others (e.g. future of EU defence or democratic reform).

While the European Parliament has already signalled its intention to push for a Convention to bring about the necessary treaty changes that "the conclusions of the Conference require", other EU institutions are still cautious about committing to a concrete reform track. This suggests a need to apply additional filters to help the EU identify and push for reforms reflecting both the final proposals of the Conference and the new reality.

This potential draft blueprint and timeline outline a proposal for a detailed post-Conference process into a new era. It aims to reflect and contribute to the debate on what should come after the Conference, touching on a spectrum of options that involve the need to speed up policy reforms and innovations and the proposal to initiate a Convention to amend the EU's primary law.

Following the CoFoE, this blueprint suggests EU institutions put together a Wise Wo!men's Group tasked with assessing the CoFoE outcome in terms of priority, scope, clarity of action and required treaty amendments. The Group will have to prepare the next steps in the process by filtering the necessary key policy reforms in light of the new era and drafting a preliminary list of treaty amendments, reflecting already existing adaptation needs as well as the proposals coming out of the Conference. The final report of the Wise Wo!men's Group could be presented and discussed at the CoFoE's feedback event for citizens in Strasbourg in October 2022. Crucially, the report should then form the basis for the launch of the ordinary treaty revision procedure (Article 48 TEU) in December 2022, including the setting up of a Convention.

This blueprint conveys three key messages:

First, enacting indispensable policy reforms and treaty change is not an 'either-or ' question. On the contrary, they should be pursued in parallel, and they might even influence each other. A comprehensive Conference follow-up should therefore include both tracks.

Second, EU institutions need to follow up on key policy reforms and potential treaty amendments in a coordinated effort to make sure that the necessary reform momentum will be strong enough and not fade away over time. Discussing and then agreeing on a concrete blueprint and timeline is essential to ensure that the EU27 will have the political stamina and commitment to prepare the Union for the realities of the new era we live in.

Third, if EU institutions decide to amend the existing Treaties via the ordinary revision procedure through a Convention, this process must be properly prepared. There is a need to define a clear mandate and agree on a predefined timetable laying out what the process should look like.

This draft blueprint and timeline aim to foster the discussions on the post-CoFoE period, and we will potentially update the document in line with the upcoming developments and the evolution of the debate.

Download BLUEPRINT here


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