Charles Michel: EU Will Never Be Ready for Enlargement Unless It Sets a Date for It

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The European Union will never be ready for enlargement unless it sets a target, European Council President Charles Michel said on Thursday after tough responses to his claim that the EU should be ready to accept new members by 2030. “Setting a date for enlargement forces the EU to prepare and gives the Western Balkans a concrete timetable for results. Obviously, if we don’t set a goal we will never be ready,” Michel told a group of reporters in Brussels. He added that his speech at the Bled Strategic Forum, where he mentioned 2030, was the result of numerous consultations with EU and Western Balkan leaders, reported, citing “The fact that it is necessary to obtain the unanimous consent of member states on all important decisions is often cited as one of the main obstacles to further EU enlargement, as it slows down and in some cases blocks the decision-making process,” Charles Michel said. There is also the question of whether the unanimity rule can be changed without changing the treaties which govern the functioning of the EU. According to the president of the European Council, the EU must answer three questions before deciding whether to initiate a treaty change. “We need to find answers to three questions: what do we want to achieve together, what are our priorities? How will we realize them? How will we fund them? If we find a common approach to these questions, then we will see if we need to change the treaties,” a European diplomatic source said. Other sources in Brussels stressed that a more nuanced approach is needed and that the problem of decision-making at the EU level should not be reduced to the need to abolish the veto or not. All these aspects will be addressed at an informal summit that the Spanish Presidency of the EU Council is organizing in Granada on 6 October.