The European Union currently needs an in-depth reform of its institutions to modernize the economy of the euro zone, fight against climate change, efficiently manage migrations flows, reduce poverty, and to tackle the other most serious contemporary issues, and propagate on the international scene the values of justice, freedom and security that have so far guided the European development. In the history of EU, waves of enlargement have always preceded the institutional changes necessary to allow efficient decision-making processes in the context of an enlarged community. In other words, enlargement has often been perceived as a step forward, that would leave EU institutions with no choice but to deepen the integration of the member states. Thus, after 10 new member states joined the EU in 2004, the EU tried to reach an agreement on the content of an institutional reform that had become necessary because of the growing difficulties in speaking with one voice and making decisions for 25 states, with an institutional framework designed for 15. The result was the project of a European constitution that France and the Netherlands turned down in 2005.
[...] First, a certain lack of transparency characterizes the EU institutions. Indeed, the EU citizens usually support the European projects but struggle to link them to concrete realizations. A majority of them think of EU institutions as technocratic powerful organisms that do not interfere with their everyday life but only emit useless regulations. This lack of proximity unfortunately has disastrous consequences on the voting turnout at European elections usually, only 45% of the electoral body decides to vote at the Parliament's election- which, in turn, weakens EU's democracy. [...]
[...] The result was the project of a European constitution that France and the Netherlands turned down in 2005. From then on, the EU has been going through a new kind of crisis: for the first time in its history, it struggles very seriously to reform its institutions even though the need for an institutional makeover is more pressing than ever. It has been made clear in the last 3 years and that was not a surprise to everybody - that the process of deepening does not to automatically follow an enlargement wave. [...]
[...] This would give more credit to the EU's position, which would certainly entail a serious gain of influence for the EU on the geopolitical field. Finally, to increase the feeling of belonging to the European Union as a common construction, a clause of solidarity would be incorporated into the treaties, so that member states would have to help each other should a terrorist attack or a natural disaster happen. As can be inferred from this part, the Lisbon Treaty is likely to significantly improve the EU's situation on the three topics previously mentioned. [...]
[...] Thanks to the Lisbon Treaty, the national parliaments would play a greater role within the EU institutional framework. This is perceived as a means to bring the decisions closer to the citizens' aspirations. Besides, the Treaty would grant to every citizen of the EU the right to submit any proposal he wants directly to the commission, provided he gathered a million of signatures (art.11). This could certainly contribute to erase the image of technocracy and bureaucracy that is associated with the EU institutions today. [...]
[...] The rest of the institutions would have to be adapted to allow a more efficient functioning with 27 member states. The guideline of the reforms is to anchor EU's legitimacy not only in its achievements but also in its internal functioning; thus, reforms strive to reach a greater level of democracy and transparency within the institutions. The starting point of the in-depth reforms is probably the Laeken declaration, in the middle of December 2001. At that time, it was agreed to increase the powers of the commission, change the mode of election of the parliament, and encourage national parliaments to play a more active role in the European achievements. [...]
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