© Reuters. A large European Union flag lies at the centre of Schuman square, outside the European Commission headquarters, on the eve of Europe Day, commemorating the declaration made by Robert Schuman in 1950, in Brussels, Belgium, May 8, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman
By Jan Strupczewski
BRUSSELS (Reuters) -The European Union must radically overhaul its decision-making and funding before it can accept more countries to join the 27-nation bloc by 2030, a paper commissioned from experts by the French and German governments said, polarising EU countries.
Eight countries currently have official EU candidate status – Turkey, Ukraine, Moldova, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia – while two, Georgia and Kosovo, are potential candidate countries.
“For geopolitical reasons, EU enlargement is high on the political agenda, but the EU is not ready yet to welcome new members, neither institutionally nor policy wise,” said the report, presented to EU ministers in Brussels on Tuesday.
The document, seen by some officials as an opening bid in a long debate over the coming years on how to reform the EU, got mixed initial reviews from EU government ministers.
“It was able to concentrate the debate on a few points and at the same time polarise the answers of Member States,” Pascual Ignacio Navarro Rios, Spain’s acting Europe minister told a news conference.
The document, which states it should not be seen as representing the views of Paris and Berlin yet was presented by the two countries, says the EU should move to taking all of its decisions by a qualified majority, rather than reserving some areas for unanimous agreement.
“The institutions and decision-making mechanisms were not designed for a group of up to 37 countries and … they make it difficult even for the 27 to manage crises effectively and take strategic decisions,” it said.
PUT AN END TO UNANIMITY
The EU requires unanimous decisions on foreign and security policy, taxes, EU finances, some areas of justice and home affairs and social security and protection.
The unanimity requirement has been criticised by some governments and experts as either substantially slowing or even blocking the EU’s development, as all decisions in these areas have to be reduced to the lowest common denominator.
Yet changing this would require amendments to EU treaties, which would be a long and difficult process and would itself require unanimity.
The paper also calls for a…