Future of Europe: reforming the EU

MEPs have taken the lead in rethinking how the EU should adapt to meet today’s challenges such as migration, the economy and security.

The EU has launched the Conference on the future of Europe initiative to see how the EU should evolve to best meet new challenges. However, in previous years the European Parliament and the Commission were already involved in initiatives to explore different ideas.

Conference on the future of Europe

The Conference on the future of Europe is a new initiative looking at what legal changes are needed to better prepare the EU for the future. It is expected to run for two years, involving a cross-section of society to give people the chance to contribute.

Citizens have to be at the core of discussions on how to reform the EU, MEPs said in a resolution adopted on 15 January, setting out their vision for the Conference on the Future of Europe.

However, due to the Covid-19 outbreak the process has been delayed. In a resolution adopted on 18 June, Parliament urged the Council to soon come up with a position on the format and organisation of the conference. MEPs feel the conference should start as soon as possible. They reiterated their call for people to be at the heart of this process.

Parliament was the first of the three main EU institutions to adopt a position on the set-up and scope of the upcoming Conference.

What the European Parliament has proposed

Over the last few years Parliament has been reflecting on the changes that are needed to prepare the EU for the future. As part of one initiative EU heads of state and government were invited to the Parliament to discuss their plans for the EU’s future with MEPs.

In addition MEPs adopted three reports in February 2017 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) looked at what improvements are already possible using the existing system.

The future of Europe: making the most of the Treaty of Lisbon (Elmar Brok)

The report by Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, Belgium) considered what treaty changes might be needed for additional reforms.

The future of Europe: Europe "is undergoing an existential crisis" (Guy Verhofstadt)

The report by Reimer Böge (EPP, Germany) and Pervenche Berès (S&D, France) set out how to bring the economies of countries that have adopted the euro closer together and make them more resilient.

The future of Europe: the euro zone needs to muscle up (Pervenche Berès/Reimer Böge)

European Commission reflection papers

In 2017 the European Commission published a white paper on the future of the EU.

In addition the Commission published five reflection papers in 2017 as a starting point for a debate on the future of European integration. Each paper is dedicated to a specific theme: Europe’s social dimension, globalisation, the economic and monetary union, defence and finances. The papers contain ideas and scenarios for what Europe could be like in 2025, but no specific proposals. These reflection papers were discussed by MEPs during plenary sessions.

Making the most of the Lisbon Treaty

Reform of the treaties

Reinforcing the euro zone