Italian PM calls for ‘pragmatic federalism’ and eastward expansion of the EU | European Union News

Mario Draghi calls for the enlargement of the European Union to the east as well as the revision of the EU treaty to streamline decision-making in the bloc.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has said that the European Union must emerge stronger from the historic challenges posed by the war in Ukraine, in particular by expanding towards the East.

The conflict, he told the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday, was “a security, humanitarian, energy and economic crisis all at the same time” which had revealed that existing European institutions were “inadequate” in their response.

The answer, he argued, was “pragmatic federalism” with streamlined decision-making that would eliminate member state vetoes that are currently often able to block majority positions.

“This is the beginning of a path that will lead to the revision of the treaty. And if so, we should pass it,” he said, to applause from MPs.

Draghi, a former president of the European Central Bank credited with saving the euro from collapse 10 years ago, said EU enlargement eastwards was essential, including taking Ukraine.

European aspirations

“We must fully integrate countries that have European aspirations,” he said.

He expressed Italy’s support for the “immediate opening of accession negotiations” with Albania and North Macedonia, and for reinforced negotiations with Kosovo and Bosnia.

“We are in favor of all these countries joining the European Union and we also want Ukraine to become a member of the European Union,” he said.

A few days after the Russian invasion in February, Ukraine pleaded for accelerated entry into the EU.

Brussels responded by saying the process was rigorous, complex and took years, but offered Kyiv a fast-track preliminary assessment stage.

Albania and North Macedonia have been on the verge of starting the accession process since 2020, but have stalled due to objections from Bulgaria and conditions imposed by Germany and the Netherlands.

Defense integration

Draghi also called on Europe to move faster towards greater defense integration.

He told EU lawmakers that military spending across the bloc was “deeply inefficient” because of its distribution among more than 130 armed forces and individual organisations.

He welcomed the European Council‘s action plan to strengthen the EU’s security and defense policy by 2030 but said it was “necessary to move quickly beyond these first steps”.

Draghi stressed that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens “peace on our continent”.

He affirmed his support for continued military support requested by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, saying that “to protect Ukraine is to protect ourselves”.

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