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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.