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EU must reform to be ready for enlargement


29 Feb 2024



Today, the European Parliament called for bold reforms and a clear pathway towards an enlarged EU. The Socialists and Democrats played a leading role in shaping Parliament’s position on the institutional and financial reforms needed in the EU to make enlargement a success. 

In the report, MEPs envision EU reforms taking place in parallel with preparations and reforms in accession countries. In the EU, reforms would include more effective decision-making, with a move away from unanimity, and financial reforms to ensure the EU has a properly funded Multiannual Financial Framework and a budget that meets the demands enlargement will have on cohesion and agriculture policy. Meanwhile, accession countries should be subject to concrete individual reform targets and roadmaps and their progress should be linked to gradual integration into common EU policy like the single market. Finally, MEPs are clear that there should be no fast track for EU membership.

The proposals were initially drafted jointly in the constitutional affairs and foreign affairs committees and they were debated on Wednesday and adopted on Thursday in the plenary session.

Pedro Silva Pereira, Parliament’s lead negotiator for the constitutional affairs committee, said:

“The political message of the European Parliament in this report is clear: for enlargement to be possible, besides important reforms in the candidate countries, we need institutional and financial reforms at European level, otherwise the EU will not be ready to absorb new members. An enlarged EU, with 35 or more member states, cannot function with the current rules and budget designed for 27. If we want to be serious about enlargement, we have to acknowledge that European reforms are needed and that creative solutions, such as differentiated integration, must be part of the EU’s institutional architecture.”

Thijs Reuten, S&D negotiator on the foreign affairs committee, said:

“Enlargement has been the EU’s most successful foreign policy instrument, and it has become a geopolitical necessity to protect ourselves and our neighbours against autocracy and instability. The EU itself needs to improve as well, in the interests of existing and future citizens alike, and to make sure we continue to improve people’s lives. We have the opportunity to make enlargement a win-win situation by strengthening our Union while at the same time living up to our promises to candidate countries and to the promise of Europe. We need to be ready.”