EU conference backs deeper integration, right pulls out – POLITICO

European politicians at a conference to revamp the EU on Saturday signed a plan for deeper integration, prompting a group of right-wing MEPs to back out of the plan.

The Conference on the Future of Europe was set up last year with the aim of bringing together citizens and politicians from across the EU to come up with ideas for reshaping the bloc.

At a session in Strasbourg on Saturday, the conference plenary – made up of representatives from EU institutions, national parliaments and citizens’ panels – approved more than 300 proposals. They include the abolition of national vetoes, granting the European Parliament the right to propose laws, more investment in climate change mitigation, the launch of “joint armed forces” and transnational electoral lists.

The text notes that there was a “difference of views” on whether new countries joining the EU should still require the unanimous agreement of current members and “a range of views” on “the extent to which there should be joint armed forces”.

“I am really very touched today because it is a historic moment for our European democracy,” Dubravka Šuica, European Commissioner for Democracy and Demography, told reporters. “I am more than happy because we have engaged citizens [were] very committed and they really surprised me.

The proposals now go to the conference’s executive board, which is due to present the final report to the presidents of the EU institutions on May 9. The extent to which the plans will become reality depends to a large extent on EU member governments, many of which have not expressed great enthusiasm for the project.

“There was a lot of skepticism at the start of this whole process,” said MEP Guy Verhofstadt of the Renew Europe group, co-chairman of the board alongside Šuica. But now, he argued, “everyone saw that this was a very serious undertaking and…a very promising path for the European Union“.

A wide range of European lawmakers – from the center-right European People’s Party to the left-wing group – have thrown their support behind the proposals.

“The Federal State of #Europe will come true!” tweeted Green MP Niklas Nienass. “It will shape the world forever!”

But it’s not music to everyone’s ears.

MEPs from the right-wing groups Identity and Democracy (ID) and European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) refuse to support the proposals, arguing that they do not reflect public opinion in the EU.

“The selection of citizens attending the conference was itself very flawed,” the ECR Group said in a statement. “Research shows that citizens in favor of a more centralized Union were much more likely to accept an invitation to participate in the Conference’s citizens’ panels than those who were more skeptical.”

The group says they reject the “idea”

“Getting out of this farce was the only right decision,” mentioned Swedish ECR MEP Charlie Weimers on Twitter.

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