Brussels, 1st of July 2014
To the Members of the European Parliament,
The European Parliament election results demonstrate a strong desire for change. From today you, as a new representative of the European people, have the opportunity to turn a new page, make daring political choices and propose institutional changes that will bring the EU closer to its citizens. If you don’t act now, others will take the opportunity to instigate negative reform.
Successive EU treaties have granted increasing powers to the European Parliament, consolidating its role as co‐legislator. Despit this, for many citizens, a “democratic deficit” remains, which you are there to fill. Given the European Parliament’s status as the centre of decision‐making we believe you can do just that, by taking the lead in ensuring citizens’ concerns remain at the heart of EU decision‐making.
Europe+ (Civil Society for the Renewal of European Democracy) is willing and ready to engage with MEPs in a constructive dialogue to ensure civil society participates fully in this new legislative term. Decisions made by the European Parliament will affect the daily lives of millions of citizens in Europe; citizens whose concerns we represent and whose rights we defend. Moreover, we believe that civic participation strengthens the scrutiny of policy and ensures a better articulation of the economic, social and democratic components of policy decisions.
Europe+ builds on the recommendations of the 2013 European Year of Citizens Alliance that developed a policy agenda to ensure a vibrant European democracy (see annex “It’s about us, it’s about Europe!”) where decisions are made in line with citizens’ needs, aspirations and visions for society. We call on you to make sure that these recommendations are followed up on and that the provisions on civil dialogue of Article 11 of the Treaty of Lisbon are implemented.
Many improvements can be made to how the EU works, and future legislation needs to be made more transparent and open to input from civil society. Moreover, we believe all MEPs should be working to acknowledge and support the role of civil society organisations in bridging the gap between the European Parliament and European citizens.Citizens need to be involved and have a say in policy changes and institutional reform.
Furthermore we believe that a Treaty revision process should be launched to ground the European project in democracy, solidarity and equal access for all to the fundamental rights. This would allow for the participation of citizens, and create greater transparency of EU decision‐making processes across all EU institutions and by national governments when deciding on or implementing EU related policies, programmes and legislation. We are convinced that the most democratic and appropriate instrument to achieve this Treaty revision is through a new Convention for the future of Europe.
This is why we ask the European Parliament to prepare a proposal for the initiation of a new Convention, according to Article 48 of the Treaty of Lisbon, and to use the full weight and legitimacy of your individual and collective mandate to insist that this Convention is democratic, transparent, inclusive, participatory and ensures close involvement of civil society. A new Convention should not only represent an opportunity for institutional reforms but also a step towards a policy change in the EU.
We, the more than 40 organisations that make up Europe+, call on you to work towards these goals in order to put citizens back at the heart of the European project and restore the legitimacy of the European integration process via open and democratic methods.