On Tuesday, MEPs supported Mario Draghi’s call to reform the EU to guarantee sustainable economic growth and transition, during a “This is Europe” debate in Strasbourg.
“The EU is facing another ‘whatever it takes’ moment”, EP President Roberta Metsola said when introducing Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi to the plenary. She added that Mr Draghi already steered the EU out of a crisis when he was President of the European Central Bank. “I have no doubt that we can rely on your experience again as the EU faces another existential crisis”.
On the war in Ukraine, Ms Metsola highlighted that “the coordination, solidarity and unity the EU has shown against this war must remain the blueprint for our actions going forward.” On the future of the EU, she pointed out that, “no suggestions for change that have been made by the Conference should be off limits. Because if not now, then when?”
Prime Minister Draghi noted that the sum of the current crises Europe is facing - the war in Ukraine, the increase in energy prices and refugees’ arrivals - “forces us to speed up the integration process”. “We must show the citizens of Europe that we are capable of leading a Europe that lives up to its values, its history and its role in the world.” He also added: “We must move beyond using the principle of unanimity (...) and move towards decisions taken by a qualified majority”, for a “Europe capable of making decisions in a timely manner”.
On the Russian aggression against Ukraine, he stressed that “the priority is to reach a ceasefire as soon as possible”. He added: “We want Ukraine in the EU” and “we must also proceed as quickly as possible”.
Mr Draghi also proposed increasing coordination among national defence systems, strengthening the way the EU manages migration as well as curbing bills and fuel prices and supporting wages to help families. “Now is the time to take this forward. On 9 May the Conference on the Future of Europe ends and the Final Declaration asks us to be very ambitious.”
You can watch both speeches here.
Political group leaders
In their reaction to Mr Draghi’s speech, MEPs commended Italy’s leadership and commitment to the EU, especially during the pandemic. They stressed that EU cooperation and solidarity is needed more than ever in the light of the Russian war in Ukraine and other crises Europe is facing, be it to fight climate change or to help refugees. MEPs highlighted the importance of energy transition and independence as key to the EU’s long-term success as well as a measure to help Ukraine. Once the Conference on the Future of Europe ends, the European Union needs to be reformed, they urged, to guarantee sustainable economic growth and transition. You can watch political group leaders’ speeches here.
You can watch the full debate here. This was the second in a series of debates on the EU titled “This is Europe” on a common agenda for Europe’s future. The first one was held with Kaja Kallas, Prime Minister of Estonia, at the March plenary session.