The European Union must undergo major reforms now to be ready to cope with having 30-36 members in the future, Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Monday, 29 August 2022.
“The centre of Europe is moving eastwards,” Scholz said on Monday, delivering a wide-ranging speech at the Charles University in Prague. “In this expanded union, the differences between the member states will grow as far as political interests, economic clout and social security systems are concerned,” he said.
“Ukraine isn’t Luxembourg”, he added.
He added the bloc should also ditch the requirement for unanimity in its decision-making process, which has in the past allowed single countries to veto key collective decisions. Scholz cited sanctions and human rights as two potential starting points where the bloc could move from unanimity to a qualified majority.
Scholz called on the EU to take its promises “seriously” when it comes to enlargement and carry out institutional reforms “now” to adapt itself for the eventual arrival of new member states, such as Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and countries in the Western Balkans.
The chancellor also said the way seats are allocated in the European Parliament should be reformed to prevent the hemicycle from becoming “bloated” with the arrival of new states.
Scholz also pushed for a “coordinated growth” of Europe’s defence capabilities, with member states working more closely on manufacturing, procurement, arms projects and military missions.
He backed a plan to establish an EU rapid reaction force of 5,000 troops by 2025, which would allow the bloc to respond with greater speed to international crises and conflicts.