“Citizens’ agenda” to move EU from reflection to delivery


The Commission is set to adopt a policy-driven “Citizens’ agenda for Europe” which identifies delivery failures as the main cause of the EU’s “legitimacy crisis”.

Two new communications, seen by EURACTIV, will provide the basis of the Commission’s input to the European Council of 15-16 June. They will be presented on 10 May by Commission President Barroso and Vice-president Wallström.

The first one “A Citizens’ agenda for Europe” sketches the Commission’s diagnosis of the crisis and recommends a focus on delivery. It starts from the premise that the EU was “never more needed”, but also “rarely more questioned”.

What it suggests as remedies is rather general and consensual:

  • to create a “single market for the 21st century”;
  • to launch an “agenda for access and solidarity”;
  • to improve European decision-making in the area of Freedom, Security and Justice (mainly issues of anti-terrorism, border protection, migration policy and fight against international criminality)
  • to organise a debate on the value added of enlargement and the Union’s “absorption capacity” (its ability to take in new member states);
  • to develop the EU’s global role.

The Commission is very cautious as regards the way forward on the Constitutional Treaty. Starting from the view that there is no consensus on this issue, it recommends to “move from reflection to delivery” and adopt a “step by step approach designed to create the conditions for a future institutional settlement”. It proposes to draft a new solemn declaration, inspired by the Messina Declaration, “setting out Europe’s values and ambitions, with a shared undertaking to deliver them”.

Last, but not least the Commission estimates that the reform of the EU’s budget in 2008 will be essential to deliver on this “citizens’ agenda”.

The second communication provides a synthesis of the debates undertaken during the “period of reflection”. One of the main lessons learnt is that EU citizens have a “fairly low knowledge and interest in how the EU institutions operate”, but at the same time “high expectations on delivery and policy content”.


After the "no" votes on the Constitution in two founding member states (France and the Netherlands), the June 2005 European Council decided to start a one-year "period of reflection" to allow for a broad debate in all EU countries on the future orientation of the Union. The Commission reacted with a "Plan D" for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate to support the member states that were willing to undertake this soul-searching debate with its citizens. 

One year on, the Austrian Presidency will use the European Council in June to take stock of the debates to date.


  • The Commission will present its two communications for the June Summit on 10 May
  • EURACTIV invites its readers to comment tp the Commission's ideas. Contributions can be sent to editor@euractiv.com

Further Reading