EPC Summit: moving closer to enlargement?

Heads of state and government from more than 40 countries are convening in Granada, Spain, for the third meeting of the European Political Community (EPC). In addition to Russia's war against Ukraine and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the discussions are focusing on how and when to expand the EU. Commentators are at odds over the pace at which this should be done.

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RFI România (RO) /

Prevent another blockade

The EU should no longer hesitate regarding enlargement, journalist Ovidiu Nahoi writes on RFI România:

“Of course, the Granada meeting will not provide the answer to the thorny questions of how to reform the EU with a view to enlargement. A political declaration of the will to enlarge would indeed be a historic moment, and the EU states must rise to this challenge in the near future. The EU candidate countries have waited far too long, and enthusiasm for accession has waned, at least in the Western Balkans, while the influence of powers such as Russia, China and Turkey is now more palpable there. The EU simply cannot afford another blockade.”

La Libre Belgique (BE) /

Don't let rivals get there first

La Libre Belgique sees EU enlargement as crucial:

“The EU 27's renewed interest in opening their club to new members has little to do with some romantic concept of the European integration project. Instead it stems from the pragmatic consideration that if the EU does not admit its neighbours on the old continent into its circle, systemic rivals such as Russia or China will gain a foothold there without the EU or the populations of these countries being better off as a result. In this sense, enlargement has become imperative for the EU.”

L'Echo (BE) /

No to blind actionism

Although L'Echo approves in principle, it urges a cautious approach to enlargement:

“In our opinion, the fundamental question of whether the EU needs to be enlarged can only be answered with yes. However, there is no question of going ahead with our eyes shut. Of course, certain candidate countries are still a long way from European standards. For example, it is simply impossible to ignore the degree of corruption in some of these countries. Let us be clear: admitting countries that flout the common rules is not an option. Those that are not EU-compatible will have to remain in the antechamber.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

This will galvanise the blockers and delayers

Zelensky's demand for fast-tracked accession negotiations is on shaky ground, El Periódico de Catalunya believes:

“From the EU's point of view, Ukraine's insistence on starting negotiations this year clashes with a timetable that requires the agreement of all members. And while Turkey knows that starting negotiations is no guarantee of success, it would be very surprising if governments like Viktor Orbán's did not take advantage of the circumstances to block or at least delay the negotiations. ... At the same time we should not forget that next year's elections to the European Parliament could strengthen Eurosceptics and anti-Europeans, who have little inclination to promote an EU that is still far from being a genuine political union.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Europe will benefit in the end

Handelsblatt says there is no alternative to Ukraine's joining the EU:

“The Russian war of aggression must not succeed if nationalist imitators are to be deterred. Ukraine must be permanently removed from the Kremlin's sphere of influence. The prospect of EU accession serves this strategic goal. ... The EU has no choice: it must transform itself from an economic area into a regional peacekeeping power and bear the costs. ... The accession process will enforce reform - not only in Kyiv, but also in Brussels. The agricultural budget, the cohesion funds, the unanimity principle in the bloc's foreign policy: nothing can remain the same. But in the end, Europe will benefit.”