The pledge campaign of Democracy International aimed at building pressure on the candidates for the European Parliament (EP) to commit to real democratic reform of the EU.

Institutional democratic reforms can only be made with a Convention. As the EP has the right to call for a Convention since the Lisbon Treaty, our campaign put pressure on the candidates to call for a Convention if elected into the new parliament.

By signing the pledges, the candidates promised: (a) to support an EP initiative for an open and inclusive Convention to reform the treaties for a more democratic EU, and (b) to call for a pan-European referendum on the results of the Convention, giving the European citizens a say on the future of Europe.

More than 1200 candidates pledged their commitment, of which 114 were elected into the new parliament. Of the 114 MEPs, 68 were re-elected and 46 were new to the Parliament; 31% are S&D, 25% are from Greens/EFA, 13% from GUE/UEF, 9% ALDE, and 3% EPP.

Developments: institutional democratic reform

After the elections and the dramatic increase in populist, eurosceptic parties in the EP, almost all MEPs that had signed our pledge took a step back from their commitments, claiming it too big of a danger to have a non-controlled democratic debate in such a political climate.

Within the formal decision-making process, two reports were initiated on the subject: one on what reforms could be made within the Lisbon Treaty (by MEPs Bresso and Brok) and one on future EU institutional reforms which would require treaty change (by MEP Verhofstadt).

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Developments: European Citizens’ Initiative

The Commission has also recognized that the political crisis faced by the EU stems from a growing discontent of citizens. In a concrete development towards democratizing the EU and in hopes of bringing the EU closer to the people, the Commission’s First Vice-President Frans Timmermans made the historic announcement in March 2017 that the European Citizens’ Initiative will begin a revision process this year. A successful revision of the ECI would mean a great step towards the democratization of Europe.

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Looking forward

Brexit has been a wakeup call that the EU cannot continue with business as usual, and that serious reforms are needed to make the institutions more democratic and closer to the people.

The decision by the Commission to hold a revision of the ECI and the support by the EP demonstrates that the EU recognizes this dilemma as well. Democracy International fully supports the reform process, and we have campaigned tirelessly since the announcement to make our demands heard loud and clear to make the ECI more simple, user-friendly, and more legislatively binding.

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