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25 June, 2024
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Germany and France propose radical restructuring of EU decision-making

Ambitious changes proposed for EU amid anticipation of expansion

Pavlos Xanthoulis

Pavlos Xanthoulis

In an unprecedented move, Germany and France are advocating for profound changes in the operation and decision-making processes of the European Union (EU).

Well-informed sources reveal that the proposed alterations are driven by the anticipation of the EU expanding to include more than 30 countries, leading to a vision termed "enhanced federalization."

A joint working group, composed of experts from Germany and France, has put forward radical proposals in an informal document, envisioning a four-speed Europe.

This ambitious restructuring aims to create concentric circles of member states and third countries, each with distinct levels of involvement in EU affairs.

The first circle, an inner core, would consist of Eurozone and Schengen area member states, forming a formidable coalition with a strong emphasis on cooperation in taxation, climate, and energy policies. Germany and France would play a leadership role, guiding those willing to follow.

The second circle encompasses all EU member states not included in the inner core, while the third circle, labeled the "first outer circle," extends cooperation to third countries associated with the EU, particularly focusing on the single market.

These countries would have a presence in the EU Council but without voting rights.

The fourth circle, the second and final external tier, would enable third countries within the European political community to engage in political cooperation on mutual concerns.

However, these proposals are deemed "far-fetched" and face skepticism from a considerable number of member states.

Critics argue that the proposed changes may lead to the marginalization of states based on criteria such as adherence to the rule of law. Germany and France, proponents of these reforms, are hinting at a gradual implementation, potentially linked to the ongoing discussions about EU enlargement.

As part of the restructuring efforts, Germany and France are enlisting the support of the European Commission, headed by Ursula von der Leyen.

The Commission is expected to present its formal proposal for EU reform in the coming month, sparking discussions and preparing the ground for potential treaty amendments.

One of the contentious points is the phase-out of veto power, particularly in the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy. Twelve member states, organized in the "Friends of qualified majority" group, are actively working towards this goal.

Germany, however, sees this as a starting point, aiming for the long-term abolition of unanimity across various European policies.

While these proposals face resistance from several member states, the push for reform signals a potential shift in the dynamics of EU decision-making.

The coming months are likely to witness intense debates and negotiations as the EU grapples with the prospect of transformative changes.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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