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Changing the EU Treaties: Who's for it, who's against, and why?

11-5-2022 |

In the last two weeks, several leaders of the EU member states have publicly advocated changes to the Treaty on European Union, which caused mixed reactions.

The initiative was supported by French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Parliament President Roberta Mezzola.

"If it is necessary to go down a path that will lead to a revision of the provisions of the Treaty, it should be taken boldly and confidently," Mario Draghi, Prime Minister of Italy.

According to the supporters of the idea, revision of some provisions of the document will make the work of Brussels more transparent and accountable.

But the main argument is that it could make the decision-making process more flexible and speed it up, especially when it comes to crisis situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

The most active discussions are on the principle of unanimity in voting in the Council of the EU. A number of key issues related to politics, international affairs, enlargement, finance, justice and security require the obligatory consent of all 27 countries in the bloc.

In addition, each of them has veto power. This, according to critics, slows down the response of the community's leadership. For example, at the end of 2020, Hungary and Poland threatened to veto the EU's multi-year draft budget because they were dissatisfied with the creation of a pan-European monitoring mechanism for the rule of law. In the end, the leaders smoothed over the sharp edges by abandoning some points of the plan, and the budget was approved.

"We have to look for the most straightforward solutions, either by reaching the limits and framework of the Treaty or by amending it if necessary," Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission.

Changes to the EU treaties could allow the European Parliament to take the lead on legislation, which is currently the prerogative of the European Commission.

At least 13 member states opposed the treaty revisions, saying the measures were "premature. They would "divert political energy away from the important objectives" outlined at the Conference on the Future of Europe.

"In the face of what's happening, we're going to have to make reforms. I want to say clearly that one of its points must be the convening of a Treaty Review Commission. This is a proposal of the European Parliament, which I approve," - Emmanuel Macron, President of France.

Changing the treaty is a laborious process. Negotiations and discussions take years. After all, the approval of all the countries of the bloc is required. In some countries a parliamentary decision is enough, while in others the electorate must have its say.

Work on the Lisbon Treaty, for example, began in 2001, the final text was approved only in late 2007.