Representatives of the European Citizens Consultations project handed over the final report of their deliberations to Vice-President Margot Wallström and MEPs on 10 May. But will their hard work have any influence on EU leaders who are ‘diplomatically’ resurrecting the failed Constitution?
At an event in the European Parliament on 10 May 2007, three citizens who had participated in the Consultations met with Commission Vice-President Margot Wallström, Parliament Vice-President Gérard Onesta and Belgian MEP (and former prime minister and Convention Bureau member) Jean-Luc Dehaene to hand over the consultation wish-list of the project.
Three policy priorities for EU leaders have been put forward by the citizens during their national consultations:
- The EU should play a stronger role in family and social welfare policies and ensure basic minimum standards;
- the EU needs to find a common response to immigration and integration issues, and;
- it needs to be given stronger powers to develop a common energy policy.
In her response to the report, Vice-President Wallström expressed her admiration for the “hard work” undertaken by the citizens. “The success of the dialogue with the citizens ultimately depends on the EU’s capacity and willingness to listen, and to consequently deliver better policy results,” said the commissioner.
MEP Gérard Onesta expressed the Parliament’s support for the citizens’ consultation and promised that the Parliament will in future organise more hearing exercises in the form of European Citizens’ Agora. Jean-Luc Dehaene who was in responsible for dialogue with citizens during the Convention leading up to the draft Constitution, said that the process had been more involving “NGO technocracy” than citizens as such, and called the European Citizens Consultations a “milestone in the way we link to the people”.