Guy Verhofstadt discusses 'weaknesses' within the EU
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Its planned launch in Strasbourg this weekend could be scrapped as a result of the feud between the European Council, Commission and Parliament. Senior Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt, one of the conference’s co-chairs, was said to be going to “war” in order to salvage the inaugural event. Sources say Mr Verhofstadt is frustrated by the European Council’s bid to stifle the conference’s ability to push through reforms.
“There is a bust-up over what happens at the end of the citizens consultations,” one insider said.
The ongoing row is over how the final report with proposals on the future of Europe is drafted after the end of the conference in spring 2022.
If the body’s executive board is allowed to take charge of the conclusions, Mr Verhofstadt is concerned this will hand the Commission and Council a veto over any reforms.
He is pushing for national parliament and MEPs to be handed a serious role in the hope that it puts pressure on the member states to adopt the proposals.
Sources say the Council are opposed to handing Mr Verhofstadt and the EU Parliament too much power because it doesn’t want “dangerous” proposals that might actually lead to reform.
A second insider said a decision would be made on the conference’s weekend launch soon.
It was suggested the Parliament-organised event would get the go-ahead when Mr Verhofstadt believes he has secured enough powers to dictate the final outcome of the conference.
The platform aims at gathering opinions from citizens on how the EU should move forward after Brexit.
Its official launch is due to take place on Sunday, which is also Europe Day.
Ahead of the event, Mr Verhofstadt said: “When times are turbulent politics needs to adapt, to reform.
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“There was a lot of turmoil in the European Union in recent years.
“There was a financial crisis, a migration crisis, Brexit. And on top of all that, came an unprecedented health crisis which touched all of us directly.
“It is time to let people take stock and let all Europeans be heard. We ask open questions to the citizens, so we ourselves need to be open to the answers we will get… even if they don’t confirm our own opinions, our own views or expectations.”
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He added: “The conference is a way to make Europe stronger.
“And the message we give, we take people seriously in their dreams and in their anxieties, in their criticism as well as their policy proposals.
“So, for me, this initiative is also a sign of European self-confidence. The Future is in your hands.”
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