European Conservatives and Reformists Group walks out of Conference on the Future of Europe

The ECR Group in the European Parliament has left the Conference on the Future of Europe in an act of protest.

In a statement released today, the group exposes the Conference’s shortcomings in terms of participation opportunities, legitimacy and transparency, for example in the formulation of conclusions, but also in financial terms. The agenda of giving Brussels more powers was ruthlessly pushed through by the organisers by means of a biased selection of citizen representatives and experts, among other things.

They further noted a distortion of citizens’ recommendations due to the two-stage nature of the conference, as well as an imbalance between the different components. In addition, they said, the conference was characterised by a lack of time and extremely low visibility among the European public.

The ECR Group had originally seen the conference as an opportunity for the European institutions to reach out to the broader population, including those parts that oppose more powers for Brussels and are more aligned with the former European Community, which left broader powers to nation states. The “Eurorealists” contributed to this with their own campaign, organised in several European capitals.

The ECR Group has expressed regret that, in the end, the Conference did not serve as a platform for different ideas for the future, but as a cherry-picking exercise manipulated by some political families.

“The continued participation in the conference would only serve to legitimise the conclusions, as if it had been a truly democratic reflection on the future of Europe. The latter was not the case at this event. Nevertheless, we will continue to participate in discussions with citizens and commit ourselves to further represent their views on EU reform in our daily work in the European Parliament,” the group said in its statement.

ECR participants commented on the Conference.

MEP Zdzisław Krasnodębski (Poland), ECR observer in the Executive Board of the Conference, said:

“We strongly regret that the Conference on the Future of Europe turned out to be contrary to what it was meant to be. It should have been a broad consultation on the direction the EU should take in the coming years, with a free debate in which different visions could be considered. Instead, it has just been yet another attempt by some political families to create a false impression that there is a consensus on the future of Europe, with no valid alternative to more centralisation and further limitation of the role of the Member States. An unrepresentative group of citizens was mobilised just as a tool to legitimise these old calls. My main reservations, apart from a number of criticisms on procedures and organisation of the Conference that we expressed many times, concern in particular the proposed institutional changes. Giving more and more power to the European level would only further distance Europeans from the decision-making centre in Brussels, instead of bringing the Union closer to them. Our Group cannot subscribe to it and therefore has no other choice but to leave the Conference.”

ECR MEP Carlo Fidanza (Italy) added:

“We suspected from the beginning that the Conference would call for further transfers of national sovereignty from Member States towards the EU, but we nevertheless decided to participate in it out of a sense of responsibility for the future of Europe. However, instead of being an occasion for renewal, the Conference quickly turned out to be a political tool in the hands of the European federalists.”

MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski (Poland) stated:

“We joined the Conference in good faith, hoping that it would be a genuine consultation of citizens on the future of Europe. It turned out though to be a staged and politically manipulated exercise, aiming to legitimize a predetermined political agenda for a centralised federal EU, with the ambition to change the Treaties. Bypassing democratic procedures, and thus the democratic will of the people, has the goal of benefiting the elitist project and hijacking the EU - exactly the opposite to what has been declared. Those who believe in the EU’s founding Treaty based on the principles of subsidiarity, proportionality, proximity and representative democracy cannot subscribe to such social and political engineering, which we know too well from rightly passed times in Eastern Europe.”

MEP Michiel Hoogeveen (The Netherlands) said:

“The Conference on the Future of Europe has failed. It lacked public attention, as almost nobody has heard about it. I call on my government not to accept the recommendations, since many of them lack public support in the Netherlands. The Dutch people are strongly in favour of taking back control of their migration policy, for instance, and against giving the EU more competences in such areas like taxation, minimum wage or electoral law. Let us truly listen to our citizens.”

On Wednesday, the ECR Group will hold a press conference with MEP Zdzisław Krasnodębski, Chair of the ECR Working Group on Institutional Reform, in Strasbourg who will report on the conference from the ECR Group’s point of view.

Link to the full statement: https://ecrgroup.eu/article/ecr_group_delegation_withdrawal_from_the_conference_on_the_future_of_europe

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