EU reform: End of veto among proposals to be considered

Conference on the Future of Europe’s 325 recommendations will now go to EU leaders

The abolition of the veto in almost all areas of EU decision-making – including on military and security matters – is among the recommendations of an EU-wide consultation aimed reforming the bloc.

The Conference on the Future of Europe has been debating proposals to reform the EU since last year but a key meeting on Saturday agreed 325 proposals to achieve 49 objectives, and will now go to EU leaders for consideration. The European Parliament approved a draft of the proposals on Friday.

The conclusions of the conference advocate greater integration, swifter decision-making and a more powerful and proactive EU.

However, the prospect of treaty changes and closer military co-operation – with the potential necessity for a referendum in Ireland – are unlikely to be welcomed by the Government in Dublin.


As well as enhanced EU military co-operation, the conference has recommended greater powers for the European Parliament, including the right to propose legislation (currently only the commission has this power), and some transnational lists for elections to the parliament.

Once approved by the conference’s executive, the proposals are likely to go to the heads of the EU’s three principal institutions – the parliament, the commission and the council – on May 9th, Europe day.

However, they are likely to meet opposition among many national governments wary of ceding powers to the EU.

Right-wing walkout

The proposals were backed by representatives of five of the parliament's main political groupings, including the European People's Party (of which Fine Gael is a member), Renew Europe (of which Fianna Fáil is a member), the Socialists, the Greens and the Left group, of which Sinn Féin is a member.

These groups will now bring a resolution to the parliament this week in support of a revision of the European treaties to introduce the reforms, said one of the conference chairmen, Guy Verhofstadt.

He said that that MEPs must “fight hard” to ensure that the conference’s proposals would be turned into the “reforms that the EU needs”.

But right-wing MEPs from Identity and Democracy group and the European Conservatives and Reformists group refused to support the proposals, saying there was no public support from them, and they withdrew from the conference on Saturday.

The recommendations of the conference also include calls for the EU to give greater priority to efforts to tackle climate change, to achieve “strategic autonomy” on the supply of medicines and to establish a “right to health” by introducing common minimum healthcare standards across the EU.

It suggests “joint armed forces” should be used for “self-defence purposes”, though the document acknowledges that there was “a range of views as to the extent to which there should be joint armed forces”.

The conference also suggests that some members of the European Parliament be elected through union-wide or "transnational" voting lists, and suggests that the president of the European Commission could be directly elected by EU citizens.

A proposal to dispense with the need for unanimity, “which make it very difficult to reach agreement” – effectively meaning an end the national veto – is likely to be resisted by many national governments, however.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times