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Debate on reforming the EU, New challenges

BRUSSELS: Throughout its existence the EU has always evolved in response to a constantly changing world. The most recent major change was the Lisbon treaty, which gave the Parliament new law-making powers.

However, the process never ends. In recent years there have been increasing calls for another institutional reform in response to developments such as the digital economy, climate change, migration and terrorism . These are challenges on a global level which require an international approach. Reforming the EU could make the institutions more flexible and able to respond quicker while facilitating cooperation between member states  In addition Brexit – the UK’s decision to withdraw from the EU – has stressed the need to relaunch the EU in order to make it more democratic and more relevant to people.

An additional reason for reflecting on the future is the EU’s 60th anniversary this year, or more specifically 60 years since the Treaties of Rome. This is not only an occasion to look back at past achievements, but also to look ahead to future challenges.

MEPs started their reflection on how the EU should adapt at the beginning of the year, followed by the European Commission.

On 16 February 2017 MEPs adopted three reports setting out how they believe the EU needs to be reformed in order to boost its capacity to act, restore people’s trust and make the economy more resilient.

The report by Mercedes Bresso (S&D, Italy) and Elmar Brok (EPP, Germany) looks at what improvements are already possible using the existing system. Proposals include:

  • The Council of Ministers should be turned into a genuine second legislative chamber, and its configurations into preparatory bodies similar to Parliament’s committees
  • Each member state should present at least three candidates, including both genders, for the role of “its” Commissioner
  • The Council should switch completely to qualified majority voting, wherever this is possible under the treaties, to avoid blocking important draft laws and speed up the legislative process, and
  • A permanent Council of Defence Ministers should be set up to coordinate the member states’ defence policies

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