In December 2007, after intense discussions and negotiations about the future of the European Union, the Heads of State or Government of the 27 EU Member States signed the Treaty of Lisbon. This so-called 'Reform Treaty' still includes the Constitutional Treaty's most substantial changes for more democracy and efficiency in decision making processes. The Treaty of Lisbon will apply only after being ratified by each of the 27 members. It is due to come into force in January 2009. At that same time, the Czech Republic, for the first time ever, will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
This publication presents a discussion of the future of the EU from a Green perspective. In what direction should the European Union head now? What should the future distribution of tasks between the EU institutions and the Member States look like? Where should the external borders of the EU lie in the future? How is it possible to reconcile the political, social, and cultural diversity of Europe with a joint capacity for action?
Since June 2006, the Czech Green Party (Strana zelených) has had six deputies in the Parliament of the Czech Republic and is represented in the cabinet, which won a vote of confidence in January 2007. Greens hold four ministerial posts in the coalition government. The Green Party places great emphasis on European policy issues in its work and also stresses the need to strengthen and deepen European Union integration in order to meet the global challenges of the future. The electoral success and participation of the Czech Greens in government is a positive signal, not only for the European Green movement, but also for the future of the European project as a whole.
The articles included herein were written in May 2007. Due to the success of the Czech version, we decided to translate it into English in order to make the authors' ideas available to the wider European¨public. Since connection with civil society is characteristic of the European Green movement, we have also included four contributions by representatives of Czech non-governmental organisations whose work and exacting analyses we greatly value.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the authors for their committed work, as well as the editor Václav Nekvapil, sub-editor Eva Jelinková, and Ondřej Liška (Minister for Education, Youth and Sports since December 2007), for their excellent co-operation. Our thanks also to Gwendolyn Albert for her translation and editing of this English edition.
We hope the positions and ideas of the authors contained herein will provide inspiration for a broad, constructive debate, and demonstrate how the European project might move forward.
Prague, December 2007
Eva van de Rakt,
Director, Prague office Heinrich Böll Foundation