For reasons, I made a wiki page, called Labour’s Turning Point, which looked at matters in the Labour Party on the topic of the European Union following Starmer’s speech/interview in Montreal in Sept 23.

I argued that , it needs to be seen in the context of the EU’s consideration of its own reform which is being pushed by its enlargement and democratisation agenda. See also, the Franco-German proposals, “Sailing on High Seas: Reforming and Enlarging the EU for the 21st Century” [ or my annotated mirror] for a multispeed & streamlined Europe. This is also commented on by institute jacques delors. I decided the document needed a page on this wiki for itself.

What do I think it says?

Well, the report index says,

I. Protecting a fundamental principle: the rule of law
II. Addressing institutional challenges: five key areas of reform

  1. Making the EU institutions enlargement-ready
  2. Decision-making in the Council
  3. EU-level democracy
  4. Powers and competences
  5. EU resources

III How to manage progress: Deepening and widening the EU

  1. Options for treaty change
  2. Differentiation
  3. Managing the enlargement process

Labour’s first reaction is that it is not relevant, they are not interested in “associate membership”.

And so?

What direction of travel will occur, will it be easier or harder for the UK to rejoin?

Alberto Alemanno

He says, in this thread,

which I have unrolled via

He also quotes himself on twitter from a Politico article, “The level of enthusiasm for EU enlargement and reform is, in reality, quite low. Yet Scholz and Macron realize that unless they do something, the EU could come apart.” My take for ⁦@POLITICOEurope #granada #EUCO

The politico article is very punchy, I have cut-out these notes on diigo,

The French leader will make a joint push with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to kick start difficult EU enlargement talks at the third meeting of the European Political Community, a forum created in response to the Russian invasion that includes European leaders from beyond the EU to build a broader, more inclusive European network.

“Candidate countries must, on a merit-based approach, measure and comply with all the criteria before negotiations are opened,” Burke said, echoing statements from the European Commission.

“The level of enthusiasm for EU enlargement and reform is, in reality, quite low,” said Alberto Alemanno, professor of EU at HEC business school in France. “Scholz and Macron don’t really want to reform or enlarge — but they realize that unless they do something, the EU could come apart.”

Macron’s brainchild, the European Political Community, will again see intense lobbying from the leaders of EU candidate countries, which fear being relegated to a second-division club. 

And inside the club, conversations aren’t any easier. EU leaders have yet to agree on the language of their enlargement statement at Friday’s informal EU summit, given a lack of agreement on several areas. While Germany and France want member states to reform before or during enlargement, Nordic countries and the Baltics want Ukraine and others to join first, and then tackle reform. 

Clea Caulcutt and Nicholas Vinocur,

A common accord

The European Policy Centre’s Andrew Duff has written Towards common accord? The European Union contemplates treaty change, the landing page for Andrew Duff’s paper. I have annotated it, and reproduce some of those notes here,

There are many, of course, of a eurosceptic bent who claim that treaty change is not needed, regardless of enlargement. This is, at best, wishful thinking, at worst disingenuous.

… [The EP resolution proposes] extension of the ordinary legislative procedure involving qualified majority voting (QMV) in the Council plus co-decision with the Parliament. It thus conforms to the main conclusion of the recent Conference on the Future of Europe, involving citizens.

On the passerelle clauses,

He says,

Curiously, however, no proposal is made to eliminate the possibility of a veto against the use of the passerelle by one national parliament. If the Commission and Council can agree to nothing else, they should agree to the modification of the passerelle clause (Article 48(7) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU)). Without facilitating gradual steps towards more democratic voting in the Council, the EU’s constitutional evolution will be hobbled, and its capacity to act effectively limited. Retaining national veto powers as they are could make the enlarged Union of 30 + members unmanageable.

On Parliament

The EU’s main problem is the lack of a credible government, not the absence of an effective parliament.

Duff also laments the opportunity to introduce transnational lists, a proposal that I am not enamoured off. I think that its premature and that the big parties already have a pan-European appeal, organisation and policy creation capabilities.

On financing the Union aka Taxes,

… the Franco-German experts are more cautious than Parliament about introducing QMV. They merely recommend that coalitions of willing member states should jointly finance specific policies, and that the EU should be enabled to issue common debt “in the future”.

In my book, this would be a disaster.

On the Council

In spite of its evident frustration at the Council’s handling of legislative trilogues and the tendency of every Council presidency to kick the constitutional can down the road, the European Parliament misses this opportunity to tackle reform of the Council.

On Enlargement

One of President von der Leyen’s motives for embracing treaty change is to prepare the Union to shoulder more responsibility in foreign policy, security and defence.

The Group of 12 propose that each chapter in the formal accession catalogue should be closed by QMV rather than unanimity (although they keep unanimity for the final decision). They also suggest that member states newly acceded should be prevented from vetoing those coming behind …

Duff’s paper looks at how to change the Treaties, critiques the Group of 12’s proposals which he characterises as the introduction of an a-la carte opt-in/opt out arrangement which I suggest the British example shows as unworkable.

… the experts propose that a core group of states devise a supplementary federalist treaty, effectively leaving the old EU behind …

It is fair to add that the current debate over differentiated integration, within or without the Union, has a slightly unreal quality to it. When France and Germany continue to disagree with each other over so many matters …

Dave Politics , ,

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