As announced in President Juncker’s 2016 State of the Union speech, the European Commission presented a White Paper on the Future of Europe on 1 March 2017.In the aftermath of Brexit, and in anticipation of the 60th anniversary from the signing of the Rome Treaties, this document focuses on providing “reflections and scenarios” for the possible future developments in the EU by 2025.
The EU is closing to its 60th anniversary, and it has a lot to show for itself. Now representing a community of over 500 million citizens and the second largest economy in the world, the EU officials have recognized the need to define a possible future path through which the integration and cooperation between the EU member states can be continued, and to, in the words of Jean-Claude Juncker: “..shape a vision for its future”.
The White Paper represents several different scenarios of integration which the EU States can adopt in the coming years, also taking into account possible challenges of globalization, security concerns and the rise in population. Some of the presented scenarios focus on carrying on in the direction set by the Bratislava Declaration from 2016. The “carrying on” scenario foresees, among other things, that single market is strengthened, the cooperation in the euro area is increased, and the progress into making a common asylum system is achieved. The second scenario named “nothing but the single market” foresees that EU27 is gradually re-centered on the single market as the 27 Member States are not able to find common ground on an increasing number of policy areas.
The third scenario resembles the principle of multispeed Europe, one or several “coalitions of the willing” emerge – which means that some countries will do more together in specific areas such as defense, internal security or social matters. The following scenario focuses on delivering more and faster in selected policy areas, while doing less where it is perceived not to have an added value – attention and limited resources are focused on selected policy areas.
Scenario number five – “doing much more together” means that Member States decide to share more power, resources and decision-making across the board. Decisions are agreed faster at the European level and rapidly enforced. By 2025 this could mean that in many areas the EU will have direct competence.
The 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome on 25 March 2017 will be an important occasion for EU27 leaders to reflect on the state of play of our European project, to consider its achievements and strengths as well as areas for further improvement, and to show common resolve to shape a stronger future together at 27.