Prague ‘Christmas package’ to push forward EU reforms – EURACTIV.com
The Czech EU presidency will prepare a “Christmas package” containing proposals for reforming the bloc, aiming to attract those who remain unenthusiastic and unconvinced of the need for change.
The idea for a Christmas package comes after the Czech presidency sent a questionnaire to member states on EU reform this summer. The results showed that national governments are currently not very open to reform, said Czech EU Minister Mikuláš Bek (STAN).
“For example, Scandinavian countries are not inclined to open EU treaties,” Bek said.
Is reform in the air?
The last time the treaties were reformed was in 2009 with the Lisbon Treaty. Since then, demand for more change has accelerated after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, with several governments complaining that agreement on Kremlin sanctions was slow due to the need for unanimity.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen backed a constitutional convention to reform EU treaties in her State of the Union in mid-September, insisting leaders must be ‘serious’ about EU reform.
Policies requiring treaty change are also among the recommendations emerging from the Conference on the Future of Europe, the year-long participatory democracy exercise that concluded earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has also prompted calls for reforms to make it easier for EU countries to cooperate in health emergencies.
A convention, bringing together representatives of the 27 national governments, does not guarantee the reform of the treaties but constitutes the next step in the process.
The package “is the only way forward”, said Czech EU Minister Mikuláš Bek of the liberal Mayors and Independents party.
In June, MEPs backed a resolution urging EU governments to establish a constitutional convention, and member states are legally bound to give a response by October.
The Czech side also doesn’t seem keen on reform, as Bek said bigger decisions would no doubt be taken after Czechia completes its six-month tenure as EU Council presidency. .
Commenting on the package, Bek said it “could include, for example, a change to supermajority voting, albeit limited, or an agreement to call a convention at some time that will be acceptable to a majority of members. “.
However, EURACTIV Czechia understands that Prague hopes every EU state will find a proposal in the package they agree with, increasing the likelihood of support for the overall package.
Hungary at the table
Regarding qualified majority voting, which would deviate from the principle of unanimity voting still applicable in certain cases, notably in foreign policy, Bek said that he “explicitly invited Hungary during the bilateral meeting to present its own proposals on how to reform the EU”. . Otherwise, we won’t get far.
However, according to Bek, it is still unclear what the fate of the Christmas package will be, although he promised that his country would most likely push for flexibility in the enlargement process.
This “would allow Ukraine, for example, to enter the single market”, the minister said.
“For the Czech government, the geopolitical strengthening of Ukraine is a matter of its own national security,” concluded the Czech minister.
(Eva Soukeníkova | EURACTIV.cz)