Europe needs to further build a “Europe for citizens” based on a strong vision, says Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission.
Speaking to national parliamentarians from across the EU, Reding said Europe was at a defining moment, with tough decisions needed in the coming months. However, these could not be taken without a public debate on “democracy, legitimacy and the future of Europe”.
“[EU] Integration and legitimacy must advance in parallel. More democracy is the corollary of greater institutional integration,” she said. “The European Union needs to stand up to current global challenges and provide the best outlook to its more than 500 million citizens.”
She outlined her vision of a “United States of Europe”, with a federal constitution taking account of European history, values and diversity. She also called on members of parliaments to engage the public in national debates on different visions for the future of Europe.
The 2014 European Parliament elections should focus on “European choices and programmes”, she said, and not become a referendum on local or national matters.
“We need to make sure that citizens’ voices are heard and truly count,” she added.