David McAllister MEP: The ongoing process of EU enlargement
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David McAllister MEP: The ongoing process of EU enlargement

Since the beginning of the construction of Europe, enlargement has been an instrument for promoting peace and stability in regions close to the borders of the European Union and for supporting development in countries wishing to join the Union, while respecting EU values and standards.

At present, nine States are officially candidates to join the European Union: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine. They are at different stages of the procedure.

With Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine, enlargement made a strong comeback and is now at the forefront of the political challenges facing the Union. This war shows how fragile peace and stability at the borders of the European Union are. If the EU wants to guarantee peace and prosperity for its citizens, it must ensure a stable situation in its direct environment. Opting for further enlargement also allows the EU to reaffirm its desire to become a major global geopolitical player.

The Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union has indicated in its programme that it is ready to support the candidate countries in their efforts to join the European Union. At the same time, it is crucial to prepare the EU’s policies, resources and decision-making structures for future accessions. Enlargement must always be accompanied by deepening.

The EU finds itself at a crossroads and must implement a certain number of reforms, independently of its enlargement process. The European Union’s policies must be fit for the future and financed sustainably, in line with its fundamental values, and the EU institutions must function effectively. Because without in-depth reform, the EU risks being faced with the dilution of its project and erosion from within.

To avoid blockages, the EU should rethink its decision-making process and improve its ability to speak with one voice. We need to facilitate an open discussion on qualified majority voting, particularly in the field of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. There is also a need to strengthen trust while balancing the fundamental interests of all Member States, as well as to provide the EU with a decisive capacity of action. The European Parliament is defending reforms aimed at consolidating the EU’s capacity to act and giving citizens a greater say. In particular, it proposes to reduce the number of deadlocks at Council level through more decisions taken by qualified majority voting and the ordinary legislative procedure. In this regard, the recommendations from the Conference on the Future of Europe should be kept in mind.

The institutional configuration also needs to be clarified, particularly with regard to the size and functioning of the different EU bodies.
Finally, reforms must facilitate the accession of new Member States, helping them to meet the Copenhagen criteria, as well as to respect the values common to all Member States of the Union.