In the beginning, they were six. Today, twenty-seven. Tomorrow, thirty-five? The Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950, which launched the first European Community, wanted it to be “the ferment of a broader and deeper community between countries long opposed by bloody divisions”. Enlargement is not a diversion from the European project, but its accomplishment. In doing so, it does not simply extend the scope of the acquis communautaire. A Europe including the Western Balkans [Albanie, Bosnie-Herzégovine, Kosovo, Macédoine du Nord, Monténégro et Serbie]Ukraine and Moldova will not be the same Union only bigger.
Read also the editorial of Le Monde: Welcoming Ukraine into the EU requires clarity and creativity
The change of scale is taking place at the same time as a change of era, marked by the brutalization of international power relations and by the degradation of the climate. This is why enlargement and deepening are not to be opposed, but to be articulated. They are neither to be postponed nor rushed, but to be anticipated in all their complexity, to be debated during the European elections, in a year’s time.
It is not up to Ukraine to impose its tempo on enlargement. kyiv expects to obtain the opening of accession negotiations by the end of the year. And would aim for an entry by 2030. But the recent setbacks in Poland, Romania and other Eastern countries, faced with the influx of Ukrainian cereals, transiting without customs duties on their markets, illustrate the consequences among many others of too immediate an entry by a large country.
The Turkish Unthought
Between haste and stagnation, between full and complete integration and constantly delayed entry, there is room for membership at a sustained pace, but in successive stages. In short, for a gradual integration. The Twenty-Seven have asked the Commission to study this new path which would organize a period of institutional appropriation by the candidate country, the gradual absorption of European funds, the first concrete achievements and guarantees of effective respect for the State of right. A time, too, of acclimatization of public opinion.
With regard to them, let us avoid the shock of a transition from twenty-seven to thirty-five Member States of the Union in one fell swoop. The increase in the States making up the EU would benefit from taking place gradually. Without fear, on arrival, of being numerous. Circumstances, first of all, command action: with the Covid-19 and the war, the Twenty-Seven have taken heavier decisions than the Europe of Fifteen.
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