Sailing on High Seas: Reforming and Enlarging the EU for the 21st Century
18 September 2023
The European Union (EU) faces a critical juncture marked by geopolitical shifts, transnational crises, and internal complexities. For geopolitical reasons, EU enlargement is high on the political agenda, but the EU is not ready yet to welcome new members, neither institutionally nor policy wise. Against this backdrop, a ‘working group on EU institutional reforms’ was convened by the French and German governments. In September 2023, after several months of deliberation, ‘The Group of Twelve’ submitted the results of its work with this report. Recognising the complexity of aligning diverse Member States' visions for the EU, the report recommends a flexible EU reform and enlargement process. It highlights the need for immediate action to improve the EU's functionality, proposing a list of initial steps before the next European elections. More substantial reforms – including preparations for treaty revisions – should be implemented during the new legislative term (2024 to 2029). The report’s recommendations are aimed at achieving three goals: increasing the EU’s capacity to act, getting the EU enlargement ready, and strengthening the rule of law and the EU’s democratic legitimacy. The report is structured into three main sections, dealing with the rule of law, institutional reforms, and the process to reform, deepen and enlarge the EU.