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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

#EU reform: The status quo is not an option

Our ground-breaking EU reform conference is now imminent and, as widely trailed in today's media, UK Chancellor George Osborne will be giving the opening keynote speech.

You can join the conversation throughout the day on twitter, using the #EUreform hash tag, or follow @openeurope. Uniquely for this type of a conference, all sessions will be on the record. We call it "Open Europe rules" (as opposed to the more secretive Chatham House rules).

In a letter to today's Guardian, six leading MPs from across Europe, all attending the conference, argue:
Too often, the debate about "Europe" is based on emotional and ideological arguments, with all sides – from those who want more EU integration and those who want less – trading in hyperbole rather than engaging with substantive issues of policy. Of course we need to co-operate across borders in Europe. The question, as ever, is how. How do we square the need for cross-border action with democratic accountability? How do we live up to the promise to make decisions as close as possible to citizens? How do we make Europe really work for growth and jobs at a time when global competition is stiffening?  
Today, we are joining hundreds of parliamentarians and opinion-formers from across Europe at a unique conference in London organised by the thinktank Open Europe and the Fresh Start Project, dedicated to one question: how can we achieve EU reform? While our proposed solutions may differ, we agree on one thing: the status quo in Europe is not an option. If the EU is to thrive, it needs to embrace a series of bold reforms. Some of these will involve EU action, but where democratic and economic factors so dictate, this may also mean "less Europe". We want to replace the emotional point-scoring with a policy-based discussion about how to achieve a Europe that works better for both democracy and growth.
Gustav Blix Swedish MP (Moderate party); ranking member, committee on European Union affairs (Sweden)
Klaus Peter Willsch German MP (CDU); member, committee for economy and energy,
Germany; Deputy head of the committee on education, research and technology (Germany)
Angieszka Pomaska Polish MP (Civic Platform); Chair of the EU affairs committee in the Polish parliament (Poland)
Eva Kjer Hansen Chair of the European affairs committee (Liberal party), Danish parliament (Denmark) Andrea Leadsom MP for South Northamptonshire (Con); co-founder, Fresh Start Project; member of No 10 policy board (UK)
Dr Reinhold Lopatka Spokesperson for foreign and European affairs, Austrian People's party (OeVP); former secretary of state for European and international affairs (Austria)


Freedom Lover said...

All your speakers are insiders, & part of the euro-establishment! But why is there no one present from the "outside"? Such as UKIP, Syriza from Greece, Italy's 5-Star Movement, France's FN, or Geert Wilders' Party for Freedom from Holland?

You acknowledge the need for democratic accountability, & the need to make decisions as close as possible to citizens, but where are the representatives of those citizens who feel that their wishes & opinions are currently being ignored, & have been so over many of the last 40-50+ years - ie all or most of the life of the EU?

Jesper said...

One of the major issues to be addressed is subsidiarity. Fail to address the problem of overreach by EU-institutions & the federal superstate that a connected minority wants will happen.

Found a list of items that at least one national parliament submitted a reasoned opinion:

It seems reasonable to assume that items as those listed might indicate areas where at least a few nations are concerned with EU overreach. It should be possible to find some agreements to limit EU institutions power in those areas.

Anonymous said...


All well and good.

I note one major omission though. There is no mention of what we, the electorate, want anywhere in your article.

How can all of these politicians even start to comment accurately when they do not know or will not listen to what their very own electorate wants?

Engaging with the people of Europe is the first step that seems to be missing in everything EU-related.


Rik said...

Well done (and timed) by Osborne.
The battle has to be brought to the enemy.

Anonymous said...

Open Europe is disgusting and dangerous.

Anonymous said...

Reform of the EU is needed many levels above where our and Europe's politicians are targeting.

After all, why is it that after c.22 years the EU still cannot audit its own accounts?

Not sorting out problems such as this just shows how corrupt and dysfunctional an organisation the EU is.

If we cannot trust them with our money then how can we trust them on anything else?


Anonymous said...

@Jasper: the problem of overreach is a "feature", not a "bug". What's the point of having the EU if the oligarchs can't use it to overreach?

> How do we square the need for cross-border action with democratic accountability?

Easily: disband the EU and let its citizens, individually and organized in private enterprises, take charge and assume responsibility for themselves.
Btw, the question itself shows how distant those bureaucrats are: they can't seem to image how would the world still spin without them at the helm.

All right, let's see what comes out of this. I'm a pessimist. IMO the best way to reform the EU is to leave it. It is ludicrous to expect from the Eurocrats that they would favor any meaningful reforms.

christhai said...

In the Blue Corner we have the Pro-EU team.

In the other Blue Corner - we have the other Pro-EU team.

and the Winners are.......

Anonymous said...

The eussr wants to change, it wants to close all local government remove the eussr parliament and have the president of the commission renamed emperor.