The European Parliament and member states have given the green light to the joint declaration on the Conference of the Future of Europe, negotiated under the aegis of Portugal’s presidency of the Council of the EU. The proposed declaration, a four-page document presented to the ambassadors of the 27 member states in Brussels, was agreed this month at a meeting of the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper), before being discussed by the European Parliament’s Conference of Presidents. After a long impasse regarding the holding of this event aimed at EU citizens, the Portuguese presidency came up with a new format.
It was originally scheduled to begin in May 2020, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and the different positions taken by the EU institutions.
The conference will now start in May this year under the joint presidency of Ursula von der Leyen, David Sasssoli and António Costa as President-in-office of the EU Council until the end of June, when he would be replaced by the Prime Minister of Slovenia, which succeeds Portugal as holder of the presidency on July 1.
The Conference on the Future of Europe is a proposal of the European Commission and the European Parliament, announced in 2019 and spearheaded by French President Emmanuel Macron.
Its objective is to look at the medium to long term future of the EU and what reforms should be made to its policies and institutions.
It is intended that the Conference should involve citizens, including a significant role for young people, civil society, and European institutions as equal partners and last for two years.
As many wonder whether Brussels is headed towards more integration and reforms, a throwback speech by the former President of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi has resurfaced, in which he sensationally claimed there is no doubt the eurozone will eventually turn into a political union.
On May 10, 2017, at the invitation of Dutch MPs, Mr Draghi, who is now Italy’s Prime Minister, visited the Dutch Parliament’s Finance Committee for an exchange of views.
FvD leader Thierry Baudet asked Mr Draghi whether he was a supporter of the eurozone developing into a “full-blown political union”.
Mr Draghi said: “I was invited to give a speech at the Jean Monnet foundation.
“On that occasion, I had the opportunity to read some of his writings.”
Jean Monnet was a French entrepreneur, diplomat, financier, administrator, and political visionary.
An influential supporter of European unity, he is considered as one of the founding fathers of the EU and single currency.
The former ECB President noted: “In his view, there was no doubt the sequence had to be single market, single currency, political union.
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Mr Draghi was sworn-in as Italy’s Prime Minister at the beginning of February.
Among his first major tasks are to accelerate the vaccination programme and rescue the economy from its worst recession since World War 2.
He also has a major role to play in Europe.
Senior writer at Barron’s Group, Pierre Briançon, wrote on Twitter: “Draghi as Italian Prime Minister does not only change Italy, it could also upset the EU’s comfy balance of power, based for too long on the Franco-German duo.
“A third heavyweight around the leaders’ table.
“Macron and Merkel (and her successor) will have to deal with an influential voice, whose competence in economic and monetary matters dwarfs theirs (to say the least) and whose international aura and prestige at least equals their own.
“Should make for interesting intra-EU dynamics.”