A group of French and German experts has prepared a report on the future of the European Union, in which it proposes a multi-speed Europe that would comprise four levels of European integration. They also supported the commitment regarding EU enlargement until 2030.
The proposal, prepared by 12 German and French experts, envisages the integration of European countries on four levels. In this inner circle, it would be a question of closer cooperation of a certain number, and not of all the member states of the union. An example of this is the current Schengen area and the euro area.
The second level of European integration would be the European Union, and the third would be the associated members, who would, for example, participate in the internal market and respect common values. The fourth level would be the European political community, which includes around 50 countries. Participation in this community would enable political cooperation without obligations under EU law, according to a document published by the Brussels-based online newsletter Politico.
With regard to further expansion, meanwhile, they propose that the countries that want to join should be divided into smaller groups that would join the union at the same time.
At the same time, they supported the commitment of the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, that the EU and the candidate countries must be ready for the enlargement of the Union by 2030. According to experts, the new political leadership of the EU should commit to this timeline after the elections in June next year.
The number of MEPs at 751
In order for the union with more than 30 members to function, institutional changes will also be necessary, according to German and French experts. They propose that the upper limit of the number of MEPs remain at 751, whereby the number of MEPs would be distributed among the countries according to a different key.
The report, which does not reflect the official position of Paris or Berlin, envisages two possibilities regarding the greater efficiency of the European Commission. One of these is the reduction of the number of commission members, and the second is the establishment of a clear hierarchy among them.
The operation of the Council of the EU, in which representatives of the member states meet, should also be adjusted. They propose that instead of the trio of presiding countries, five member states should take part in the presidency of the Council. The five members would preside over half of the legislative period, dividing the management of individual Council compositions.
Enlargement also requires a change in the voting rules in the Council of the EU. They suggest greater use of these qualified majorities in decision-making. This currently means that in order to confirm a certain decision, at least 55 percent of the member states, which together represent at least 65 percent of the population of the Union, must vote for it. Experts suggest adjusting these proportions to 60 percent for both criteria.
Representatives of the group of experts will present the report to the EU affairs ministers of the member states today. The expansion of the union and its readiness to accept new members will also be one of the central topics of the leaders’ meetings in the coming months. This will be discussed at the beginning of October at an informal meeting in Granada.