“We will clash with the treaties if necessary”, assures Guy Verhofstadt

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With the end of the French presidency of the EU, it is time for an initial assessment of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE), a vast participatory consultation integrated into the Twenty-Seven at the initiative of the President Emmanuel Macron. Will the recommendations of the citizens be implemented? The conclusions of the European Council of June 24 and 25 maintain the vagueness. For the Belgian MEP and co-president of the CoFoE Guy Verhofstadt, the treaties must be reformed.

“The European Council takes note of the proposals contained in the report on the results of the Conference submitted to the three co-presidents, explained the former Belgian Prime Minister. Effective follow-up to this report must be ensured by the institutions, each within the limits of its own sphere of competence and in accordance with the Treaties.” A minimalist and very tepid conclusion while Guy Verhofstadt, co-president of the CoFoE, which invented the European Parliament, ignited last May: “If we have to clash with the treaties, then we will clash with the treaties. The treaties are not there for 2,000, 3,000 or 4,000 years, they must be adapted to the reality and to the demands of the citizens.The Treaties deal with a form of political organization and if this organization changes, the Treaties change.The European Parliament and its President , Roberta Metsola, are committed to change on a number of necessary and urgent points.”

The unanimity of the 27, a burden for Europe

Wind up, Guy Verhofstadt calls for the end of unanimity. “It’s the EU’s right of veto that bothers us at the moment.” He cites the example of the financial crisis of 2008. “Aid to Greece was blocked by a party, the Finns Party (the Party of the Finns, extreme right), which formed 10% of the coalition in Finland. A small coalition party has therefore blocked an entire policy for 500 million European citizens.”

Guy Verhofstadt adds to a more recent example: the war in Ukraine. He recalls that the Americans decided on March 8 to embargo Russian oil, a sanction which was applied immediately. “Whereas for us, it takes two months to decide. On May 4, it is announced that there will be an embargo in nine months… and there will still be exceptions for Hungary, for Slovakia, for the Czech Republic. This is the reality. The reality is that to decide every time at 27, you are wasting time, you are taking measures that are far too soft and that are not adapted to the world order of tomorrow.”

Will the CoFoE recommendations be endorsed to change the situation? The last European Council promises a “follow-up” and postpones the discussion to the next summit on the 27th… under the Czech presidency.


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