Publications

The political reform agenda of Ursula von der Leyen

30 August 2019
Andrew Duff (President of the Spinelli Group; Former Member of the European Parliament 1999-2014)



Ursula von der Leyen is looking to strengthen her support among pro-European forces. Her agenda for democratic reform of the EU is central to her mission. Only she, and not the European Council, is capable of setting an ambitious political agenda for the next five years. Andrew Duff argues that the Conference on the Future of Europe, which von der Leyen supports, is the best way to prepare for the next round of EU treaty revision. But the top priority must be to reform the electoral procedure of the European Parliament to introduce a real transnational element and to salvage the controversial Spitzenkandidat concept.

Completing EMU must be the central objective of the new Commission, taking bold steps towards a common fiscal policy of the Union. The ESM should form the nucleus of a federal EU treasury. And the first German President of the Commission for many years should be in a good position to press Germany to shed its conservative attitude to fiscal federalism.

The Commission must propose to replace the unanimity rule in the Council with QMV and full co-decision with the Parliament across a wide spectrum of common policy, including the EU budget, as well as energy, climate, social and taxation policies. Duff also believes that Brexit impels the EU into a radical reform of its whole neighbourhood policy.

Ms von der Leyen would be well advised to make the case for a stronger, more centralized and democratic government of the EU. Charles Michel, the new President of the European Council, should prove to be a willing ally.

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