France: Clement Beaune discusses ‘test for Europe’
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On Saturday a “Conference of the Future of Europe” is taking place in Strasbourg that aims to discover new ideas for the direction of European democracy, based upon the opinions of the bloc’s citizens. However, speaking to French news site Atlantico former senior adviser to the European Parliament Sébastien Cochard said: “The conference on the future of Europe is an idle institutional propaganda exercise, typical of a dying regime.” The former EU official compared the conference as being similar to those that the Soviet Union held in the years of its demise.
He added: “The ‘governance’ of the exercise inevitably brings to mind the period of ossification before the death of the Soviet Union.
“The Conference is thus endowed with an executive council under an egalitarian three-headed presidency ensured by the Council, the Commission and the Parliament.
“This is a secretariat which also ensures parity between the three institutions, a plenary assembly which ‘will make it possible to ensure that the recommendations formulated by the panels of national and European citizens are the subject of a debate, the outcome of which is not determined in advance and of which the scope is not limited to predefined fields of action.'”
The former senior adviser added that the details emerging from the conference were, “like a dream!”
Speaking to Atlantico director of European Movement France Jérôme Quéré stated there was a problem with the methods employed by the conference.
He said: “It is important to consult citizens rather than thinking for them.
“We know that European citizens have already opposed certain reforms, especially in 2005.
“We must therefore be able to build the project with Europeans to be sure of reflecting their expectations.
“All the more so with the recent crises, there is much more expectation towards the European Union than before.”
The director of the European movement agreed that the conference was “a good idea”, but he added that “there should be no taboo on the proposals resulting from the consultation”.
The 12 Member States of the EU have decided to exclude problematic questions at the conference such as an open debate on the reform of EU treaties.
Mr Quéré said having a debate on treaties is being seen by the EU as being “like opening a pandora’s box”.
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According to Guy Verhofstadt, who is one of the organisers of the conference, the aim of the meeting is to, “establish a Union fit for purpose”.
He said it would open up a for the EU to challenge a world that is increasingly driven by authoritarian and “big beast attitudes”.
He said the world was no longer centred around Europe but no longer “but on giants like Russia, China, India and the US”.
He said: “A world driven more and more by authoritarian, zero-sum and big beast attitudes and rules.”
Mr Verhofstadt will act as the European Parliament’s chair for the conference told its opening plenary session Saturday.
Mr Verhofstadt made an opening statement at the conference that said: “I see the Conference as a relay race.
“Citizens participating in panels will start it by defining their wishes and recommendations.
“Then, over several plenary sessions, they will hand over the baton and we will formulate concrete proposals for reform based on their recommendations.
“The final stage of this race is to approve and implement these reforms through our democratic institutions.”
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