15th Franco-German Dialogue 2013
The 15th Deutsch-Französischer Dialog (Franco-German Dialogue) under the heading ‘Federal Europe? Solidarity – Subsidiarity – Democracy’ took place in Otzenhausen (Germany) on 16 and 17 May 2013. The Franco-German Dialogue is annually organized by the ASKO EUROPA-STIFTUNG and the Europäische Akademie Otzenhausen in cooperation with the Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP), the Centre international de formation européenne (CIFE) and other partners.
In spite of the progress already achieved, the European Union has not fully overcome its ongoing crises. In light of this consideration, participants of the 15th Franco-German Dialogue discussed future perspectives of European integration in two panels and four working groups. The debates centered on the question of the necessity of a federal structured Europe. This puzzle was broken down into four working groups that discussed a European social model, means to create a European public and the composition of an upcoming convention. The working group, which was organized by IEP, addressed the reform of the Union’s architecture in light of the vision of a political union.
However, before the details of the reform of the EU’s legal framework was discussed, the working group debated the different paths to achieve a political union. Considering a grand reform of the EU treaties and a new convention, the challenge of winning EU citizens for a new reform and the risk of a new failure – like in France and the Netherlands in 2005 – were discussed. The contributors pointed out that the mediation of the value of Europe in order to convince citizens of the reform is more important than ever. However, despite this discussion on ratification, another threshold might be whether all member states are willing to participate in a political union. In order to achieve a rapid deepening of the Union, some of the panellists supported the idea of differentiated integration, while others were not willing to give up the aim of an EU of 27 member states.
The second panel discussed the reforms within the realm of economic governance. After a detailed presentation of the current institutional system and the reforms and rescue measures in progress, the dialogue focused on further reform options. Advantages and disadvantages were discussed in which the tension between the national responsibilities for sustainable state finances and the solidarity among the member states featured prominently. In addition to this structural focused analysis the panelist further underlined concrete policy options that were in the interest of the citizens.
The third panel dealt with the issue of legitimacy of European policies. Referring to the model of dual legitimacy, the role of the European Parliament and the national parliaments were considered. As the instruments are designed to slow down further integration, the contributors evaluated the national parliaments’ rights to participate – anchored in primary law – rather skeptical. Discussing the national parliament’s role in decision-making on rescue measures, particularly concerning the German Bundestag, the panellists identified a Europeanization of some parliament committees and a strengthening of the national parliaments. The integrity of the European Parliament was underlined. However, if the Euro zone receives its own budget, the creation of a special body composed of MEPs from Euro zone member states has to be debated. Moreover, the discussion concentrated on the significance of the upcoming election of the European Parliament and its potentials to foster the legitimacy of the European Union. Prerequisite for this is a European election campaign dealing with European issues.
The programme of working group 1 of the DFD 2013 is available online.
Further information about the Deutsch-Französischer Dialog can be found on ASKO-EUROPA STIFTUNG website.