This week’s plenary session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg marked the Commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Lisbon Treaty and Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Treaty, which was signed in 2007, was heralded as the new legal framework to make the EU more democratic, efficient and better able to address global problems with one voice.
For generations, crossing borders, for example from Germany to France, was not as seamless as it is today. David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament told the Members in Strasbourg that crossing this border is a “huge achievement that cannot be taken for granted.” The European project has surpassed the temporary trauma of the rejection of a proposed EU Constitution and has been the only successful attempt to create an area of peace, freedom and democracy.
The European Parliament has become a powerful institution with huge responsibilities. Having recognised democratic equality, representative democracy and participatory democracy as fundamental principles of the EU, the Treaty made the Charter of Fundamental Rights a legally binding document. Racism, gender violence and different forms of intolerance still exist in member states. The last 10 years have laid a bedrock, we must now take bold steps on issues that will have a positive impact on daily life.
The Conference on the Future of Europe to be held in 2020 presents an opportunity to address persisting and new challenges through a stronger Europe, based on solidarity and freedom. According to Mr. Sassoli, it will be an opportunity to listen to citizens as well as understand their demands, expectations and hopes, and to ensure that our democracy works better. The institutions will then have a duty to translate into practice citizens’ requests and conclude the task to achieve a union that can more globally tackle the challenges that affect our people.