Reforming the EU Outside the EU? The Conference on the Future of Europe and Its Options

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Abstract: This contribution to the Dialogue offers a first analysis of the recent initiative to establish a Conference on the Future of Europe – discussing whether it can become a new model to reform the EU, and if so, how it should be designed to succeed. The contribution examines the technicalities of the EU treaty amendment rules and emphasises the challenge that the need to obtain unanimous approval by all Member States poses towards reform. The contribution then assesses the increasing tendency by Member States to use international treaties outside the EU legal order and underlines how these have introduced new ratification rules, overcoming unanimity. Drawing lessons from these precedents, the contribution suggests that to achieve its ambitious reform objectives the Conference on the Future of Europe should consider the option to reform the EU outside the EU, by drafting a new, separate treaty with an entry-into-force rule which replaces unanimity with a supermajority vote.

Keywords: Conference on the Future of Europe – EU reform – treaty amendments – inter se agreements – Political Compact – Brexit.

European Papers, Vol. 5, 2020, No 2, pp. 963-982
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/407

* Full Professor of EU Law, Founding Director of the Brexit Institute, Dublin City University,


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