The second important change is the improvement of the functioning of the European Commission, which would also adopt a new name, namely: European Executive Body. This body would have only 15 members, thus eliminating the principle that every country must have its commissioner, and adding another function: in addition to the foreign affairs secretary, there would be a secretary for economic management. The Chairman of the Body would have great power over it, being able to dismiss any of its members at any time, and propose candidates during the appointment procedure.
Next, new, important areas would be included in the Union’s competences: policy on external borders, foreign affairs, security and defence, and industry, forestry, agriculture, and fisheries. These would be so-called shared competences with member states, so it wouldn’t automatically and immediately mean that we would lose control over these matters. However, undoubtedly, knowing the practice of the Union, this would be the beginning of a gradual takeover of competences.
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At the end of this process, the Union would decide on border protection, the foreign policy of the entire bloc, which would have to be subordinate to the policies of individual countries, on military and police matters (and possibly intelligence, as the concept of security is a broad term), and also on industrial, agricultural, forestry, and maritime policies.
I leave it to readers’ imagination what such a Union might look like, just noting that taking away the right of member states to decide in these areas and granting it to a central body (or rather, the Body) would be a constant source of conflict.
What if, for example, a member of the Body from a country that renounces nuclear energy for ideological reasons wanted to prohibit a country wishing to build a reactor based on population protection regulations? Ah, I forgot to mention that this is also supposed to be within the Union’s competences. And I deliberately don’t want to use the names of countries so as not to be accused of being anti-German…
Another important change is the introduction of simplifications to the treaty amendment procedure. We all remember the bad taste left by the ratification of previous changes when some countries had to vote in referendums until they voted correctly. It was impossible to resist the impression that this democratic procedure was irksome to the Union, so now it has been decided to abandon it. Of course, not entirely, but effectively enough to call the procedure democratic but achieve the desired effect. Instead of the obligation to ratify changes by all countries, it will be enough if 80% of them ratify them. However, if 4/5 of the countries do not ratify the treaty changes, a pan-European referendum will be announced.
This last point is part of building a democratic facade, through which, in the authors’ conception of the changes, it will likely be easier to sell them to societies. This involves a significant strengthening of the European Parliament’s role and valuing the voice of the citizens of the Union. However, let’s note, this voice is obtained in a controlled manner, i.e., in a manner tested during the famous Conference on the Future of Europe. During this conference, views expressed by several hundred randomly (sic!) selected individuals from all over the Union, which were then processed during moderated meetings lasting several months, were presented as the “vox populi” and incorporated into political plans.
Suffice to say, the abolition of the national veto was one of the postulates of this Conference. On paper and in presentations, this strengthening of the force of an institution democratically named – the parliament – looks excellent. However, in practice, linking the power of voice with decision-making in an entity as vast and diverse as the European Union will be illusory. This is a topic for separate considerations, as from the point of view of designing a powerhouse Europe, it is only building a huge theatre that will occupy the public with its disputes and scandals, giving the illusion of deciding the fate of the world.
In the proposed treaty changes, there are also rather serious provisions concerning joint armed forces and a unified “operational command.” But at this stage, I wouldn’t attach much importance to this. Indeed, there is a popular element here because one European radical in the committee working on the changes, an advocate for the defence of Union countries only by the Union itself, submitted a dissenting opinion and would like the “treaty changes to be accompanied by steps towards becoming independent from NATO.”
That’s right! This radical is named Helmut Scholz (coincidence with the surname of the German Chancellor) and is a graduate of a world-renowned university, namely the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), which he completed in the 1970s, preparing for diplomatic service for East Germany (GDR).
In the material prepared by the committee, of which the amiable Mr Helmut Scholz, along with three other German colleagues and Dutchman Guy Verhofstadt at the helm (so it’s not purely a German committee, oh no!), there is another important provision, very short and easy to overlook, but which could have serious consequences in the coming years.
The provision concerning the European currency. Currently, the norm in this matter is that “The Union establishes an economic and monetary union whose currency is the euro.” This means that such a union has been established and anyone can join it. The new regulation reads: “The currency of the Union is the euro.” Does this mean that when you are a member of the Union, you have to join the Euro? Probably the new democratic European parliament, operating according to democratic procedures, will decide on this.
Speaking of money, we must now move on to the next document I mentioned earlier, which I frivolously called the “sailing” document because it has sailing on high seas in its title. The plans that the experts hired by the French and German governments included in it largely coincide with the draft treaty changes prepared by Verhofstadt’s team. Again – it’s not worth dwelling on the details, because in political and expert circles in Western Europe, something like the renunciation of the right of veto and strengthening the European Commission is considered obvious. The twelve authors of this document also addressed the fundamental financial issues for the future of the Union as a superpower. And again, the key sentence is short: “The conclusion from the positive experience with the NextGenerationEU mechanism should be to enable the Union to issue common debt in the future.”