European Union citizens would like the 27-nation bloc to become fairer, show greater solidarity, lead the fight against climate change and make swifter decisions, even if it means scrapping the need for unanimity on some issues, an EU report showed.
The report is the result of a year of consultations with citizens by EU institutions, a process called the Conference on the Future of Europe, and it spells out ideas for change, some of which might require amending EU treaties — a highly sensitive topic.
The 49 proposals will now be examined by the European Parliament, EU governments and the European Commission, the latter the only one able to propose new EU laws.
“We call on you to look at these proposals as a whole, to implement them, and not just the ones that suit you the most and are easily implemented. Do it transparently,” the report's authors said in a direct appeal to the institutions.
The proposals listed in the report span nine themes: climate change and environment, the economy, migration, digital transformation, democracy, education, values and the rule of law, health, and the position of the EU in the world.
They are aimed at ending discrimination for all Europeans across the 27-nation bloc and urge it to be “bold and act fast” to become an environment and climate leader, by encouraging sustainable transport and becoming “a truly circular economy”.
Crucially the report calls for the EU to remove the principle of unanimity in EU decisions which now exists in areas of foreign and security policy, taxes, EU finances, some areas of justice and home affairs and social security and protection.
The requirement for unanimity has often been criticised as either substantially slowing or even blocking the EU's development, as all decisions in these areas have to be reduced to the lowest common denominator.
Such changes would require amendments to the EU treaties, which would be a long and difficult process and would in itself require unanimity.
Many EU countries believe that with the bloc facing post-pandemic economic struggles, the effects of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and climate change, a lengthy process of treaty change now would only draw away resources from tackling the more urgent issues and create new divisions.