Germany requires Western Balkan enlargement, abolition of unanimity – EURACTIV.com

Germany needs to make use of the Conference on the Future of Europe as a place to begin to develop the EU additional, probably change treaties, and abolish unanimity decision-making for EU international coverage issues, Germany’s Minister of State for Europe and Climate Anna Lührmann instructed EURACTIV in an interview.

Germany has been probably the most fervent supporters of the convention and the plans for EU reform that resulted from it.

This is “because it is our vision that we cooperate even more strongly and even more deeply in Europe,” Lührmann pressured.

“During negotiations in the Council, I have always seen myself as a representative of the future conference because I always raise these points very actively there and campaign for us to get support for implementation,” the minister added.

Almost 50 proposals had been put ahead by the convention’s plenary, together with the abandonment of the unanimity precept in EU international coverage.

Now it might be necessary that “we, as the EU, deliver and that we also really initiate the institutional reform processes mentioned in the Conference on the Future of Europe,” Lührmann added.

The significance of the convention, which formally ends on Monday (9 May), was already outlined within the German coalition settlement. It states that the convention ought to end in a “constitutional moment” for the EU and result in “further development towards a federal European state”.

For this motive, Lührmann is advocating that “results of the future conference should also be discussed with an open mind, including with an openness to changes in the treaties”.

“It is a central point of our European policy that we promote a dynamic in this direction. And I hope that the time will soon be ripe for this,” stated Lührmann.

Abolishing unanimity decision-making

Lührmann is asking for the first focus within the brief time period to be on proposals that don’t require treaty change. “There are a lot of great things, for example, in the field of renewable energies or the strengthening of European defence capabilities,” she stated.

The present treaties already permit abolishing the unanimity precept in EU international coverage. They additionally permit for the introduction of transnational lists, that are presently being negotiated.

“One point that is extremely important to us as the federal government is that there are fewer veto options in foreign policy to make us more capable of acting. There are already options in the current treaty framework for that. And we should now also discuss together as European institutions how we can best achieve this,” stated Lührmann.

With its decisive motion concerning Russia’s struggle in Ukraine, the EU has proven the premise for negotiations to abolish the unanimity precept is now stronger than ever.

“The Russian war of aggression has created a whole new dynamic in this area because the EU has acted and reacted to it in a united and determined way as never before,” stated Lührmann.

“And I think there is a growing realisation in the member states that we really have to take a more determined joint stand in this changing geopolitical context. Therefore, I think that a debate on this issue is certainly possible,” she added.

MEPs assist treaty adjustments to reform EU

Members of European Parliament handed a decision on Wednesday (4 May) supporting the result of the Conference on the Future of Europe and altering EU treaties to facilitate the implementation of residents’ proposals.

EU enlargement

However, the EU’s capability to behave is carefully linked to its envisaged enlargement, Lührmann additionally stated.

“Indeed, the two issues belong together. And for me, it is clear that if the EU grows, we must also ask ourselves in this context what institutions we need for this,” she added.

The minister added particularly in regards to the EU accession perspective of the Western Balkans, we should now “make significant progress” by opening accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia as quickly as doable.

“For me, it is clear that we have to stand by our promises. And there are very clear rules in the accession process. So, if reforms are made, then these countries will come one step closer to the EU,” she added.

Institutional reform should thus be initiated shortly earlier than these nations be part of the EU.

“We as the EU must do our homework and set ourselves up institutionally so that we can also function well as an EU of 33 or even more,” she added.

A multi-speed Europe?

Germany is now additionally open to a “multi-speed Europe” – a transfer nonetheless deemed taboo below Chancellor Angela Merkel’s management as she feared elevated integration of some states may create a wedge between EU members.

A change of course can clearly be felt below the brand new German authorities. Chancellor Olaf Scholz, for instance, emphasised throughout his inaugural speech within the Bundestag in December that sure states may transfer ahead with European integration “if not everyone is ready yet”.

Lührmann additionally acknowledged that the additional integration of the extra keen states can be a “possibility that of course exists.”

But due to Russia’s struggle in Ukraine, “now is not the time to make such a fundamental decision”, stated the German minister. “We are in a world of upheaval, and we have to start these debates now,” she added.

Germany’s minister of state for Europe additionally emphasised that Germany was already pursuing this strategy in some areas – for instance, within the “coalition of the willing” on migration coverage launched by Interior Minister Nancy Faeser.

“But right now, in this current all-encompassing crisis, the focus of the federal government is to first keep everyone together and be as united as possible, especially on the big issues,” Lührmann additionally pressured.

[Edited by Alice Taylor]

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