The ministers will participate in working sessions on three main topics: “Institutional Challenges,” “Gradual Integration,” and “The Impact of Enlargement on EU Policies.” The purpose of these discussions is to address the various challenges and changes needed for the EU to effectively accommodate new members.
The purpose of the talks is to lay the foundation for the next summit of EU heads of government and state, which is scheduled to be held in the Alhambra in October. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz aims to establish a clear link between enlargement and European Union reform at the summit, to avoid the need for the thirty-five countries that have veto power in the European Union to reach a consensual agreement on every important decision.
As we mentioned in our report, the concept introduced last week and commissioned by the French and German governments presented a concept for a multi-speed Europe in response to the vetoes by Hungary and Poland.
The EU will operate within four concentric circles: an inner circle, the European Union, the associate members, and the European Political Community – a loose association of European leaders.
The European Commission plans to publish a progress report on Ukraine in the coming months. EU leaders are scheduled to decide next December whether to begin accession negotiations with Kiev, which have been closely watched and discussed. POLITICO.
Leaders such as Schulz and French President Emmanuel Macron are calling for a clear link between EU enlargement and reforms before accession negotiations are allowed, with the already outlined concept of a multi-speed Europe playing an important role. They want to ensure that new members conform to EU principles and values, as was the case in Hungary and Poland in recent years, where they blocked many joint decisions with their veto power. This would prevent Ukraine or Moldova from becoming a new source of trouble for Brussels.
Not all EU member states share this point of view. Lithuania, for example, has proposed allowing Ukraine to join the European Union before deciding on EU reform.
Ministers are also expected to discuss the already mentioned Franco-German expert document, which puts forward the idea of “four concentric circles” within the EU. This concept allows the more motivated member states to combine more powers, while allowing others to remain within the EU without seeking a closer union.
Some Polish state media have put forward conspiracy theories that Schulz and Macron aim to manipulate Ukraine and overthrow the Polish government, which opposes EU reforms. They claim that Ukraine was offered rapid accession as an incentive. However, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry strongly denied these allegations and affirmed its commitment not to interfere in Poland’s internal affairs.
Cover image source: Dario Pignatelli/EU.