Reflecting on the future of the European Union: The view from local and regional authorities

January 2018

Reflecting on the future of the European Union

The European Union’s complex institutional architecture has been put to the test lately. The so-called “Euro-crisis” of the early 2010s and the refugee challenges that followed from deadly civil wars in much of the Middle East and some of Africa have forced Europeans to question their conceptions of internal and external solidarity. The Brexit spiral – a process that even many Brexit campaigners did not seem to think of as realistic a few hours before the shock results of the 23 June 2016 referendum were announced – led to a crisis of interpretation where politicians and analysts again disagreed deeply on the causes of a result that most saw as a failure, but which “message” (or messages) whilst largely complex and unclear, at least converges on the notion that citizens should never be taken for granted by any political institution and should thus always be put at the heart of political processes and reflections.

This mixture of crises and opportunities, maturation and growth, competition and citizens’ expectations has opened the field to a crucial reflection on the future shape that the European Union should embrace and the way in which it could and should evolve to reinvent initiative, citizens’ representation, solidarity, and institutional and policy effectiveness with the experience of nearly 70 years of European integration and to prepare for the challenges and opportunities of decades to come.

As the Committee of the Regions (CoR) is preparing to play its full part in the Europe-wide reflection on the future of the European Union, it has contracted LSE Enterprise (LSEE) and a team led by Professor Michael Bruter, Dr Sarah Harrison, and Dr Federica Bicchi to evaluate the proposals contained in the White Paper on the Future of Europe published by the European Commission on 1 March 2017.

This process formally launches a period of reflection that will aim to propose future paths by the time of the May 2019 European Parliament Elections.

The goal of the study is to understand stakeholders’ ideas, preferences, and suggestions when it comes to reinventing EU governance, policy-making and representation.

Client: European Committee of the Regions

Authors: Michael Bruter, Sarah Harrison & Federica Bicchi

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