Scholz calls for EU enlargement and an end to the right of veto

Scholz calls for EU enlargement and an end to the right of veto

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz delivered Monday in Prague a plea in favor of an enlargement of the European Union, up to “30 or 36 members”. He also wanted the end of a right of veto rhyming with the risk of paralysis of institutions.

Ten months after taking over from Angela Merkel, the Social Democrat has unveiled his vision of Europe, in the midst of a “change of era” caused by the war in Ukraine. He thus stands out from the former leader who had left several proposals made in particular by France unanswered.

Mr Scholz, who leads a coalition with environmentalists and liberals, argued for further EU enlargement. “The fact that the EU continues to expand towards the east is an advantage for all of us”, he argued the Czech Republic, which holds the rotating presidency of the Union.

western balkans

The former mayor of Hamburg wants to “commit to the enlargement of the European Union to the Western Balkan states”, as well as to Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. He went so far as to evoke “a European Union of 30 or 36 States”, very “different from our current Union”.

The Social Democrat has been an ardent defender, since his election, of the accession of the Western Balkan countries. He has thus visited them or received their leaders in Berlin in recent months.

Four of the six countries in the region have candidate status (Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Albania). Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina do not yet have it, but all have signed a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU.

In July, the EU opened accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, two countries blocked in the antechamber of the Union for eight and seventeen years, but the process still promises to be long and difficult before an integration.

Rules to review

In this future configuration, the operating rules will necessarily have to evolve, according to the Chancellor. “Ukraine is not Luxembourg. And Portugal does not look at the challenges of the world in the same way as North Macedonia”, described Mr. Scholz.

Thus, “where unanimity is required today (within the EU), the risk that a single country prevents all the others from moving forward with its veto increases with each new member state”, argued the German Chancellor.

“That’s why I proposed to move gradually to majority decision-making in the common foreign policy, but also in other areas, such as fiscal policy”, explains Mr. Scholz, not hiding the fact that ” this would also have consequences for Germany”.

For him, “sticking to the principle of unanimity only works as long as the pressure to act is weak. But this is no longer the case in view of the change of era” caused according to him by the Russian invasion from Ukraine.

Expand Schengen

He also promised to commit to ensuring that Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria obtain their long-requested integration into the Schengen zone of free movement – of which Switzerland is also a part. A “personal commitment” hailed by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis

The leader also proposes, to guarantee the proper functioning of an enlarged EU, that the procedures for breaching the rules be widened and no longer be confined solely to breaches of the rule of law, such as those targeting Hungary and Poland. .

Invest in defense

Mr Scholz, who has launched massive investments in the German army, also wants to tackle the “uncoordinated shrinkage of European armed forces and defense budgets”, laid bare by the Russian invasion. Greater cooperation between European companies on armament projects, joint manufacturing and procurement is needed, he said.

Mr Scholz also reiterated his support for Emmanuel Macron’s proposal for a “European Political Community”. However, he is less ambitious than the French president regarding this new body.

Mr. Scholz thus sees it as a place in which “we would discuss once or twice a year the central themes which concern our continent as a whole”.

The French president imagined it as a “new European organization” allowing to associate candidates for EU membership but also the United Kingdom, Switzerland or Norway.

This article has been published automatically. Sources: ats / afp

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