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EU Convention

Democratic Europe Now

EU Convention

Relaunch EU Democracy Now!

Europe is at its most challenging and important crossroad. We have never had a  more critical debate on where Europe's path should lead - and rightly so, because EU reforms must take place sooner rather than later if we are to secure a thriving, unified Union of the people. With Europe reaching a turning point and citizens feeling more distanct from decision-makers in the EU, we need to grasp the opportunity in front of us to create a Europe that fits the 21st century reality of people's struggles. This debate on the Future of Europe will only succeed if many citizens, and not just a small elite, are truly heard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons learned

Around the turn of the millennium, the EU tested the convention method with some success. In 1999/2000, an EU Convention established the Charter of Fundamental Rights and in 2002/2003 a Convention drafted the Constitutional Treaty. These two extensive exercises offered useful insights in the opportunities for civil society and citizen participation, whose input was instrumental in introducing the European Citizens' Initiative in the EU treaties. However, as citizens were not included throughout the entire process, the success of these Conventions were limited. In the end, only a handful of member states allowed their citizens to have a final say by means of a popular vote on the EU Constitional Treaty and the process ultimately failed. 

What is an EU Convention?

The Convention process is enshrined in Article 48 of the Lisbon Treaty as the only legally valid way to really change the way the EU functions. It is the only instrument in the EU toolbox that offers the possibilty of achieving substantive changes to the EU treaties in a more open and democratic way.  

It's clear that the EU must take real and legally secured steps towards reform - reforms which can only be implemented if approved by a Convention. This way, citizens as the Convention participants can directly reform Europe's future!

Our criteria for a democratic convention

Citizens Consultations on the Road to an EU Convention

We're doing our own version of mini-conventions called European Public Sphere, where we collect inputs from citizens on the future of Europe through discussions in town squares. Citizens' consultations in various forms are already taking place in the EU and in the Member States. All methods are welcome so long they are a real and serious attempt to include citizens at the core of discussions and encourage a transparent debate. 

But as imperative as the engagement of citizens is, such efforts must also have an objective, where the citizens' proposals can be legitimately considered. The renewal of Europe will fail if we leave the necessary crucial decisions only to the governments and take particpatory democracy only as a playing field. We must reconnect participatory democracy in the EU to the legal paths of reform according to the Lisbon Treaty, our primary law. 

We must take stable and legally secured steps towards reform in the EU. 

A consultation is not necessarily a convention4 steps to an EU Convention

 

Democratic Europe Now Campaign

Ahead of the EU elections in May 2014 we ran the campaign “Democratic Europe Now“. Building an alliance of 40+ major organisations right across Europe and coordinating Europe-wide actions, we generated broad support for a Convention. In a vast lobby effort, volunteers and concerned citizens contacted more than 5,000 candidates for the European Parliament, asking them to pledge to bring real democracy on the political agenda. The effort yielded 118 deputies elected to the new Parliament pledging to submit a proposal for a Convention to reform the treaties for a more democratic Europe.

Models for the Convention and treaty-making procedures

After the elections we began working on a follow-up initiative to develop concrete models for involving citizens, their elected representatives and organised civil society in the Convention process and in other procedures for major reforms. We are convinced that designing the process is indispensable for ensuring that the next round of treaty changes are conducted under proper democratic scrutiny and transparency, and with meaningful involvement of citizens and civil society.

In the early stages of the project, we have set up partnerships with the following policy think tanks:

- Clingendael Institute for International Relations (Netherlands)
- Egmont Royal Institute for International Relations (Belgium)
- Elcano Royal Institute (Spain)
- Europeum Institute for European Policy (Czech Republic)
- European Civic Forum (France)
- Istituto Affari Internazionali (Italy)
- Natolin Center (Poland)

Together with the partners, we wanted to bring together a core group of experts from politics, civil society and academia to develop new innovative models on citizen involvement in treaty procedures. Discussing the proposed models in conferences across Europe we seek to ignite debate among citizens, politicians, researchers and civil society actors about EU decision-making and the need for a democratic Convention. Proposals contained in a white paper will be aimed at policy-makers and civil society to contribute toward shaping the formal processes.
 

The alliance of Democratic Europe Now!

Chairperson Gerald Häfner at the press conference
Democracy International hosted a press briefing at the European Parliament today to launch an alliance of organisations from all over Europe under...
Democratic Europe Day in Berlin
Citizens and organisations from all over Europe took part in the Europe-wide action day for democracy on 17 May 2014. More than 80 events were...
Press conference with Gerald Häfner (Democracy International), Reiner Hoffmann (DGB), Lars Feld (economic advisor) and Franz Fischler (former EU commissioner
A non-partisan ‘Plan for a More Democratic Europe' was presented at the Federal Press Conference in Berlin, Germany today by the Confederation of...

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