The last decade has shown that we cannot continue moving from one crisis to another. Europe must prevent crises rather than react to them. We know that Vladimir Putin, China and the world are not waiting for Europe to be ready.

Europe has to act now. In order to do so, the Conference on the Future of Europe proposes far-reaching policy proposals based on ideas and proposals from tens of thousands of Europeans.

Putin’s unjustified and barbaric invasion of Ukraine was a wake-up call for Europe. Who, if not we Europeans, will defend our way of life? Europeans ask us for stronger cybersecurity by strengthening Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre in order to build up joint European cyber-defence capabilities.

Europe has to protect its external borders. Europe, not smugglers, should decide who enters Europe. To do this, we have to support and strengthen our European border and coastguards.

A pandemic, disruption in global supply chains, skyrocketing energy prices, inflation and the growing threat of climate change. In spite of all this, we delivered the COVID-19 vaccine, developed in record time and with immense possibilities for future applications.

Talking about the future of Europe especially means focusing on the young generation. Strengthening exchange programmes such as Erasmus and DiscoverEU are a clear priority. But leaving one’s country should be a choice, not the only option left. We must do more to prevent brain drain by providing affordable housing to young people and enabling them to start their lives.

We should do everything in our power to avoid a lost generation. Our youth needs quality jobs. For this, we need to create a healthy business environment, where our firms and SMEs can thrive. We propose the introduction of an ‘EU competitiveness check’ of all new EU policy initiatives to analyse their impact on companies.

We must also conclude new ambitious trade agreements and fully implement existing ones: we should expand on our idea of the single market and establish a global single market for the free world.

We want a strong Europe, not a European superstate

Most importantly, the future of Europe should be decided by European citizens. This starts with citizens having a say on who leads our Union. They deserve clarity on who is accountable in Europe. That is why we must either reinforce the lead candidate system or we could be even bolder and establish the direct election of the European Commission president.

Strengthening parliamentary democracy in Europe is another priority for citizens around Europe. The conference calls for a right of legislative initiative, full budgetary powers and a reinforced right of inquiry. This also means enhancing the role of national parliaments with an improved system to monitor the subsidiarity principle and the possibility of suggesting a legislative initiative.

But no positive reform will lead to any results unless Europe is capable to act swiftly to actually deliver on the political commitments. In key areas, such as border protection, we believe the EU must have direct implementation power on the ground. We need actions, not endless discussion behind closed doors.

Europe must be there when there is clear added value. We want a strong Europe, not a European superstate. That is why we need a competence check to identify which policy fields can be transferred back to the national or regional level, upholding the principle of subsidiarity.

For the EPP Group, it is clear: the results of the conference must see the light, not in the distant future, but now! We call for a new European Convention to reform the treaties when current means are not enough. Europeans are going through one of the most difficult times in European history.

We, as Christian Democrats, will not shy away from this crucial moment: as our founding fathers, we must be bold, we must be brave, we must make Europe stronger.

MEP Manfred Weber is the chairperson of the EPP Group. MEP David Casa is member of the EPP Group and of the Nationalist Party.

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