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Campaign for Democratic Relaunch of EU - Towards a European Constitution
At the Prague Assembly, members discussed the following proposal (among others) to improve DiEM25’s work and its potential. Please evaluate it carefully and decide whether this is something DiEM25 should invest its limited energy into.
Name: Maarten de Groot & Michele Fiorillo
Negotiated and agreed with Erik Edman, on behalf of the Coordinating Collective
Area: Influencing and Winning (suggestions for campaigns the movement can run or connect to, either local or Europe-wide; other initiatives to confront the Establishment; how to better influence elections and politicians with our agenda etc.)
“The EU must be democratized or it will disintegrate” is the slogan with which DiEM25 was launched in February 2016. 3,5 years later, the disintegration of the EU is in a much more advanced stage, but DiEM25’s plans for democratization have not yet crystallized, let alone been implemented. With a new EU legislative term and plans for a “Conference on the Future of Europe”, now is the time for DiEM25 to step up its efforts: let’s finalise our vision for the democratic relaunch of the EU and build a campaign around it, paving the way for a European Constitution by 2025!
The Conference on the Future of Europe is supposed to run from 2020 till 2022, involving citizens and EU institutions on an equal footing. Many European politicians look at this Conference as a first step towards treaty change, but no one seems to have a credible plan to prevent this from turning into another constitutional crisis like in 2005.
This is why we, as DiEM25, need to fill the void of empty words and step into the European debate with a concrete plan and a bold, people-powered campaign for a democratic new deal for Europe, making use of innovative instruments of deliberative and participatory democracy.
DiEM25 should first finalise its own policy position on the ‘Road towards a European Constitution’. Secondly, we should initiate a People’s Conference on the Future of Europe in the shadow of the ‘official’ Conference, during which DiEM25 would (co-)create a structured process that invites democrats from across the political spectrum to join us in crowdsourcing a draft European Constitution, using innovative deliberative and participatory formats, involving a wide variety of citizens and other stakeholders. Lastly, we should start an EU-wide petition with which we call upon Europe’s parliaments (local, regional, national and European) to initiate an official European Constitutional Assembly process, and make our ‘democratic new deal for Europe’ a centrepiece of our political strategy and programme for the 2024 European elections.
We all know that the road towards a democratic Europe will be long and hard, but it is up to us to convince our fellow Europeans that there is no alternative for it.
How will this proposal help DiEM25 achieve its goals?
DiEM25’s due date - 2025 - is getting closer and closer, and the disintegration of the EU becomes an ever more likely scenario. While there are 1001 topics that are close to our hearts, the fundamental democratization of the EU is one DiEM25 cannot ignore. It’s in our name, in our manifesto and in our DNA. More importantly, only a democratic Europe gives us a fighting chance in many of the other battles for global justice.
A lot of meaningful work has already been done to develop our movement’s position on this crucial topic, with the “European Constitution” being one of the currently eight pillars of our “Progressive Agenda for Europe”. Building on the example of, and the lessons learned from the Green New Deal for Europe campaign, we should pick up the work where we left off and do what we do best: to crowdsource a concrete and bold plan for the democratic future of Europe, and to build a strong “coalition of the willing” around it.
Not only would this campaign help to save the EU, it would also help us to remind ourselves and our observers why DiEM25 was born in the first place and what our compass for the future is.
How will your proposal be implemented (timeline and steps)?
DiEM25 may support civil society initiatives that make the following - for us non-negotiable - demands on the mandate of the Conference on the Future of Europe:
High-quality deliberative and participatory democratic instruments, like randomly-selected Citizens’ Assemblies, should play an important, clear and binding role in shaping the agenda and the output of the Conference on the Future of Europe (aka ‘People’s Debate’);
If the Conference on the Future of Europe recommends (a particular type of) treaty change, a politically binding EU-wide referendum should be held, asking citizens to support the Conference conclusions regarding treaty change (aka ‘People’s Vote’).
Disclaimer: No ‘Conference on the Future of Europe’ is fulfilling the promise of its name if it does not make the sustainability of its Union, in terms of its organisation and policy, its main focus. This would entail the acknowledgment that the current set-up of the EU is not meeting the expectations of its citizens, and a re-designing of its governance on a truly democratic foundation is necessary for its survival, giving citizens (at least) the same power over European institutions as they have over national institutions.
Spring 2020: DiEM25 submits its finalised draft policy paper ‘The Road towards a European Constitution’ for an All-Member Vote, and - once passed - presents it publically as our counter-proposal for the ‘official’ Conference on the Future of Europe. This policy paper also details DiEM25’s political strategy for getting the EU on the right track towards a European Constitution, including by means of the below-mentioned People’s Conference on the Future of Europe (see point 4).
Spring 2020: DiEM25 (co-)launches an EU-wide petition (translated in all European languages), calling upon Europe’s parliaments to support (selected elements of) our ‘Road towards a European Constitution’, including, at least, the demand for of an EU-wide People’s Debate and a People’s Vote kickstarting an official European Constitution drafting process. The target number of signatories is 1 million.
Spring 2020-Spring 2022: DiEM25 will (co-)organise the People’s Conference on the Future of Europe - a two-year long structured process that is aimed at crowdsourcing a draft European Constitution. All DSCs, members, as well as non-members and civil society organisations, will be engaged in every step of this process, and a clear timeline will indicate how they can contribute at different moments in the process. Indicative plan:
Step 1: agenda-setting. If we are to draft a European Constitution from scratch, which are the topics we need to discuss at local, national and transnational level?
Step 2: every topic will be dealt with for a limited time period (e.g. 1 month). During this time-period citizens and civil society organisations, from both inside and outside of DiEM25, are encouraged to organise a public event about the topic while using innovative participatory and deliberative methods, reaching out to a wide diversity of citizens, and involving as many other relevant actors, experts and civil society organisations as possible.
Step 3: after every round of topic-specific discussion, a draft report is created with the findings of that particular round. This remains open for online feedback and discussion.
Step 4: after all rounds of topic-specific discussions are concluded (both offline and online), a final European People’s Conference session is organised for the purpose of discussing and adopting the final draft European Constitution through an open and democratic process.
Spring 2020-Spring 2022: participants of our People’s Conference are encouraged to help us in campaigning for parliament resolutions in the towns, regions or countries where they live, on the basis of the previously mentioned EU-wide petition calling upon parliaments at all levels to support our ‘Road towards a European Constitution’, including, at least, the demand for an EU-wide People’s Debate and a People’s Vote kickstarting an official European Constitution drafting process.
Spring 2022: Following the conclusion of the People’s Conference, the draft European Constitution text is submitted for an All-Member Vote in DiEM25.
Spring 2022: DiEM25 organises a ‘People’s Summit’ in parallel with, and in the same city as the ‘official’ European Council summit that is supposed to discuss the results of the ‘official’ Conference. The People’s Summit will develop a strategy to implement the self-developed European Constitution, including by means of acts of civil disobedience and self-organised democratic acts (e.g. an EU-wide referendum and the election of a Constitutional Assembly). The overall aim is to develop leverage vis-a-vis the powers that be to start the path towards the participatory and deliberative development of a European Constitution, as outlined in our policy paper.
Spring 2022-May 2024: as part of the abovementioned implementation strategy (see point 7), DiEM25 will make the peoples’ self-developed European Constitution (see point 4), and the road that can get us there (see point 2), the centerpiece of DiEM25 electoral wings’ programme for the 2024 European elections, while similarly calling upon other political parties to adopt these positions as part of their political programmes.
You will know your proposal has succeeded when:
1. DiEM25 has managed to build a broad coalition of actors (NGOs, trade unions, movements, political parties, individual citizens) in support of a concrete, bold agenda for the democratization of the European Union.
2. We have equipped our DSCs, NCs and EWs with an ambitious and innovative blueprint for a European Constitution with which they can engage and inspire citizens in the run-up to the 2024 European elections and beyond.
3. The DiEM25-(co-)initiated ‘coalition of the willing’ has managed to construct the counter-power and leverage needed in order to force the powers that be on a credible path towards a European constitution. The non-violent, democratic European revolution has started.
Should DiEM25 invest energy and resources into this?