Against the background of the many challenges which the European Union has faced in recent years, the European Parliament has taken the lead in launching and hosting a series of high-profile debates on the Future of Europe, intended to run for the whole of 2018. While the Heads of State or Government of countries holding the rotating presidency of the Council – this year, Boyko Borissov of Bulgaria and Sebastian Kurz of Austria – routinely debate with MEPs in plenary, the leaders of other EU Member States are now able to set out publicly their vision for Europe’s future in a dialogue with the only directly elected European institution, during its plenary sittings.
This process is all the more important at a time when the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for the next seven years is being discussed: the choices surrounding the MFF and the direction in which the EU decides to develop are intrinsically linked.
So far, at the invitation of its President, Antonio Tajani, the European Parliament has hosted the leaders of six Member States in the context of these ‘Future of Europe’ debates, welcoming the prime ministers of Ireland (Taoiseach), Leo Varadkar; Croatia, Andrej Plenković; and Portugal, António Costa; the President of France, Emmanuel Macron; and the prime ministers of Belgium, Charles Michel; and Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel.
This Briefing provides an overview of where the Future of Europe debate stands in a number of key policy areas, such as economic and monetary union (EMU), the EU’s social dimension, migration policy, security and defence, and broader institutional issues. It takes stock of the views expressed by those EU Heads of State or Government who have intervened in the debate so far, on how these areas might develop in the future.