EU Forum

EU Integration

First steps towards a practical reform agenda for the EU

28 Feb 2014 - 15:46
Source: Esther van der Lecq. Photography
Public support in European integration is declining and fears over an emerging ‘Super-state’ have captured the debates in some member states. The need for better EU governance is a prominent theme on the EU agenda, especially in the run-up to the European elections in May 2014 and the appointment of a new European Commission in the fall. This report, a coproduction of the Clingendael Institute and CEPS, takes stock of the possibilities for EU reform.
Calls for better EU governance
In the context of a possible squeeze between the push for deeper integration and rising public resentment about the way ‘Brussels’ runs affairs, several member states are voicing their concerns. The Netherlands is calling for a more focused EU with emphasis on subsidiarity, the principle which governs when EU objectives are better achieved at the European or national level. Also the UK government is looking into ways to reduce EU bureaucracy with the ‘cut EU red tape’ reports, the French are arguing for simplification of proceedings, and even Barroso, President of the Commission, stated that the EU ‘needs to be big on big things and smaller on smaller things’.
Exploring practical steps
To encourage these discussions about a European reform agenda and practical follow-up, the report explores the political and practical relevance of some of the ideas for better EU governance in day-to-day decision-making. One of the main conclusions is that there is a broadly felt need for a reform agenda, aiming at more legitimacy of EU decision-making, better quality of EU output and a more focused EU. 
Treaty change or a repatriation of powers are a no-go, but there is ample room for improvement of existing instruments and procedures. For example, national parliaments can become better involved and the European institutions can improve their dialogue about policy priorities. A wide-ranging list of practical solutions for improvement have been suggested, but a great deal of the success will depend on the ability of – in particular – the member states to provide inputs in the decision-making process and self-restraint from the
The current political momentum could and should be used for (Council) intensified discussions about a reform agenda for the EU.
Read the entire report ‘From Subsidiarity to Better EU Governance: a Practical Reform Agenda for the EU’.