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The EU needs a complete democratic re-start now

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German chancellor Merkel and UK Prime Minister Cameron. Photo courtesy of Facundo Arrizabalaga/AP Photo.

The EU needs a complete democratic re-start now


The compromise struck between UK Prime Minister David Cameron and EU leaders on UK's relationship with the EU demonstrates that the European Union requires a complete democratic re-start. Instead of intergovernmental solutions, EU leaders must make the EU fully democratic, demands the citizens’ movement Democracy International.

“Brexit, the refugee crisis, a possible end to Schengen, cutbacks to the rule of law, all these are sad phenomena we currently witness in Europe. If there were real democracy and solidarity at European level, national leaders could not negotiate deals on a one-to-one basis,” states Gerald Häfner, board member of Democracy International.   

In this view, Democracy International demands the true democratisation of the EU including full transparency and democratic decision-making. A European convention is to be convoked, allowing citizens, politicians and civil society alike to decide on which powers to go to the European level and what competences to be at the national/ regional level. The process of the EU Convention itself is to be democratic, participatory and transparent. Citizens of the EU are to have the chance to vote on the outcome of the Convention in a referendum to provide democratic legitimacy.

“European problems demand European solutions, and to reach these solutions, democracy at European level is the decisive means. All EU citizens now must act together - from Helsinki to Athens, from Lisbon to Bucharest. It is time to open up a debate that includes all Europeans to jointly decide on our European future, but without true parliamentary and direct democracy democracy at EU level this is not possible”, so Gerald Häfner.

According to Article 48 of the Lisbon Treaty, a Convention is the only legal way to achieve substantial reform of EU treaties. A Convention is an assembly of representatives of the national Parliaments, of the Heads of State or Government of the Member States, of the European Parliament and the Commission, who jointly decide on treaty reforms. Democracy International is campaigning for an EU convention. The coalition for democracy demands that citizens and civil society participate in the convention process also. At the end, EU citizens are to decide on the outcome of the European convention through a referendum. 


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