The enlargement of the European Union promises to be one of the strong themes of the new European political course, which begins with a proposal that gives an idea of the extent to which the war in Ukraine has changed the geopolitical landscape of the continent: accepting the entry of new member states in the year 2030.
“We must set ourselves a clear objective. We must be prepared – on both sides – to expand in 2030”, said the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, yesterday at the Bled (Slovenia) debate forum, thus setting a date for the first time for a process that, until the start of the Russian invasion, slept the sleep of the just to the frustration of the aspiring countries, especially in the western Balkans, which were solemnly promised 20 years ago that their future was “within the EU”.
Because not only the applicants will have to step on the accelerator to be prepared in 2030 for a hypothetical expansion. The EU will also need to make internal reforms to ensure that it is capable of digesting an enlargement that is more complex than ever and to ensure that it does not fall into institutional paralysis. Spurred on by Berlin and Paris, European leaders have begun discussing possible changes to the way the Union makes decisions and uses its funds. “The danger is to believe that we can expand without reforming ourselves,” said French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday in Paris, who defended the old idea of a Union at various speeds.
“If we want to be credible, we must talk about the calendar,” warns the President of the European Council
Already in June, a dozen leaders (Macron, the German Olaf Scholz, the Italian Giorgia Meloni, the Spanish Pedro Sánchez or the Polish Mateusz Morawiecki) held an informal breakfast in Brussels to address these issues. In parallel, an alliance of countries has been formed that wants to bury the unanimity rule in foreign policy decisions and another to, on the contrary, demand that it be maintained. Michel supported this position: unity, however difficult it may be to achieve, is “the strength” of the EU, he claimed.
Beyond these changes, budget reforms are imposed. The potential entry of countries with an income much lower than that of the poorest members of the current EU, or of Ukraine, the world’s sixth largest producer of cereals, make it necessary to rethink agricultural aid and cohesion policy.