The informal meeting of EU leaders at Sibiu on 9 May is called to reflect on the impact of the regrettable departure of the UK from membership of the Union. The Spinelli Group urges the summit not to duck this challenge.
Spinelli Group President Andrew Duff said: “Brexit leaves the EU smaller, weaker and poorer. It is an unhappy experience that must not be repeated. Lessons can and must be drawn.”
1. The EU should radically rethink its neighbourhood policy. The UK is seeking a new style association agreement: this should be negotiated on the condition that the values and principles of the EU are respected and the single market is not disrupted. A stable and close partnership with the British can set a useful precedent for the Union’s relationship with other European states that choose not to adhere to the goals of political, economic and monetary union. The EU can be a pole of attraction and a source of security and prosperity across Europe if it discovers an intelligent path to differentiated integration.
2. A European Union able to cope with greater differentiation implies stronger governance at its centre. We urge the summit not to be intimidated by the prospect of constitutional reform, and commend those leaders who want to involve EU citizens and parliaments in preparing for a new round of treaty revision. The Sibiu summit must resist the temptation to impose more tasks on the EU without giving it all the resources and instruments it needs to conduct common policies effectively. Greater use should be made of the enhanced cooperation provisions of the treaty. The European Council should make headway by actually using the passerelle clauses of the Lisbon treaty which allow for more democratic and efficient forms of decision making. Progress should be made now by introducing QMV to certain social policy and tax matters where reasonable progress has been held up for years. On migration, those EU states which opt to exclude refugees must contribute financially to the common effort.
3. Economic and monetary union remains incomplete without a common fiscal policy, including a special budget for the eurozone. Practical expression should be given to the principle of solidarity which underpins the single currency. Measures to consolidate the banking union and the integration of capital markets are overdue. A European deposit insurance scheme for bank would mitigate the impact of the next financial crisis. The European Monetary Fund should be built from both national and EU resources and be managed federally. A eurobond market would consolidate the eurozone and reduce borrowing costs overall.
4. As many heads of government have declared, the EU should aim to become more united and assertive in the conduct of international affairs. The rise of China poses questions about European sovereignty. We welcome recent moves to develop systematically the common European security and defence policy, but the Lisbon treaty allows the use of QMV in certain cases, such as sanctions policy or CSDP missions – and the European Council should activate QMV now.
5. 2019 is the year of important change in the leadership of Europe. We recommend that the Spinelli Group’s recently published Manifesto for the Future of Europe: A Shared Destiny is required reading for all candidates.
Note: The Spinelli Group brings together politicians from many parties in the European Parliament and Committee of the Regions who are committed to the goal of federal union.
The Spinelli Group Manifesto is published in DE, EN, FR and PO at www.spinelligroup.eu. Printed copies in EN are available at our office at 25 Square de Meeûs, 1000 Brussels.