Centre news

Thu Nguyen talks to Deutsche Welle on the prospects for EU enlargement

The Jacques Delors Centre’s Senior Policy Fellow outlines potential ways to prepare for EU enlargement, also pointing out challenges ahead.  

The topic of enlargement is high up on the EU agenda, with Ukraine and other candidate countries busy undertaking reforms to qualify for accession, and EU Council President Charles Michel advocating for Ukraine’s accession as soon as 2030. However, as elaborated on in their recent report on EU institutional reform, the Franco-German expert “Group of Twelve” emphasises that the EU itself needs to prepare prior to new member states joining.  

In an interview with Deutsche Welle, expert group member Thu Nguyen reiterates their recommendations, saying that in particular the question of how the EU takes decisions could prove most politically challenging.  

"The more the member states there are, the more risk of having veto players that block decisions," Nguyen says. Therefore, Nguyen and her co-authors suggest scrapping unanimity, while also recalculating qualified majority voting shares, to make sure a bigger EU can still maintain its "capacity to act. However, according to Nguyen, “the political mood is currently not very favorable toward treaty change.”  
Should the EU fail to agree on an enlargement plan, a structure of different levels of integration could be a way to move forward. The Group of Twelve suggests there could be a core "inner circle" of closely integrated EU countries, then the wider EU, then a next level of "associate members" who enjoy some benefits linked to the bloc's single market, and an "outer circle" based on the European Political Community, which Nguyen says would "not include any form of integration with binding EU law… but rather a cooperation based on geostrategic considerations." 

Read the full article here.