At a keynote speech to the European Parliament on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron proposed the creation of a new “European political community” that would parallel the European Union.
Macron’s proposal came in light of Ukraine’s request for accelerated membership to the European Union which the French president said would take decades.
“Even if we gave them candidate status tomorrow, we all know perfectly well that the process of allowing them to join would take several years, in truth doubtless several decades,” Macron said of Ukraine’s membership bid.
As an alternative, Macron proposed the creation of a parallel community which would include EU members, EU hopefuls (e.g., the Western Balkans), and even Great Britain.
“This new European organisation would allow democratic European nations … to find a new space for political cooperation, security, cooperation in energy, transport, investment, infrastructure, the movement of people,” Macron described the initiative.
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France is part of a group of countries that have been skeptical of further enlargement and its toll on European institutions, especially as the list of EU hopefuls grows larger.
With Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, both Moldova and Georgia have expressed a desire to apply for EU membership, while in the Western Balkans, the accession process come to a grinding halt.
Macron’s proposal echoes François Mitterrand’s project for a European Confederation after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
On December 31, 1989, Mitterrand called for the creation of a “European federation… to associates all states of [the continent] in a common and permanent organisation for exchange, peace and security.”
Mitterrand’s project never did come to fruition and Macron seems ready to take on his predecessor’s legacy. Yet, despite his lofty aspirations, Macron’s own plans remain opaque, as his speech to the European Parliament contained few practical details.
And while Macron’s speech was directed at Ukraine, his insistence that the European Union not lower its stringent standards for accession spells trouble for the Western Balkans Six most of whom have been in the waiting room for decades, with little progress.
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