Macron calls for a new European “community” including Ukraine

Emmanuel Macron has called for the creation of a broad ‘community’ of European democracies to include non-EU members amid calls to reform the way the continent is governed following Russia’s invasion of Europe. Ukraine.

In a speech to the European Parliament on Monday, Macron also joined an effort to rewrite EU treaties to speed up decision-making in the 27-member bloc.

Macron, re-elected French president last month, recalled that his predecessor Francois Mitterrand had proposed a European club as large as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989.

Mitterrand’s idea ‘posed a good question and the question remains – how to organize Europe politically in a broader way than the EU,’ Macron said in Strasbourg on the declaration’s anniversary of Robert Schuman of 1950 on European integration. “It is our historic obligation to respond to this today and to create what I would call a European political community.”

He added: “The European Union, given its level of integration and its ambition, cannot in the short term be the only means of structuring the European continent”.

The proposal comes as EU leaders rethink the way the Union handles relations with its close neighbors in the wake of the war in Ukraine. One of the key questions is how to manage the aspirations of a series of non-EU countries aspiring to join the bloc.

The new community would allow European countries adhering to the “fundamental values” of the EU to cooperate in the fields of security, energy, transport, infrastructure and the movement of people, the French president said. Membership, he added, would not prejudice a country’s candidacy for EU membership.

Macron said he hoped Ukraine would be officially accepted as a candidate for membership, but countries aspiring to join are likely to view his idea with suspicion, given frustrations that the union has blocked their applications. Macron said the new club was needed because future EU members such as Ukraine were waiting years, if not decades, before they could join.

There is also pessimism about how quickly any of the six Western Balkan countries – Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia – will become a member.

Macron suggested the community would not only be open to prospective EU members, but also those who had left – a reference to post-Brexit Britain.

The French leader also endorsed the idea of ​​opening a convention to discuss EU treaty reforms, echoing a call from the European Parliament and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi last week.

“We will have to reform our texts, that’s clear,” Macron said, adding that he wanted the issue to be discussed by the EU Council as early as June.

Speaking shortly before Macron, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she welcomed parliament’s willingness to use its powers to come up with a convention. “Let’s work on all of this together, without taboos, without ideological red lines,” she said.

Among the ideas gaining traction is a call to end unanimous decision-making among EU member states in areas such as foreign affairs and security.

Unanimity voting in some key areas “just doesn’t make sense anymore if we want to be able to move faster”, Von der Leyen said, adding that Europe should play a bigger role in areas such as health and defense.

Macron supported the use of qualified majority voting on decisions “for our main public policies”.

However, a group of 13 member states, including Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Poland and Romania, warned in a joint document on Monday against “reckless and premature attempts to initiate a treaty change process”.

This, they wrote, “would carry a serious risk of diverting political energy from the important tasks of finding solutions to the questions our citizens expect answers to and managing the pressing geopolitical challenges facing Europe.”

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