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Von der Leyen prepping plans for 30+ EU members

Von der Leyen prepping plans for 30+ EU members

by host

STRASBOURG — European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU’s executive arm is preparing a blueprint on reform within the bloc as it plans to take in more member countries such as Ukraine.

“We will also start working our own reforms to prepare for a Union of 30-plus member states,” von der Leyen said to the European Parliament. With discussions bubbling along in other EU institutions, this is a normal step as the bloc seeks to grow. All EU institutions are preparing for enlargement over the next decade.

The 27-strong bloc struck a political agreement in December to open accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova in December. Other countries such as Georgia and six nations in the Western Balkans are also at different stages of the enlargement process during which applicant countries must meet strict EU conditions (Croatia joined the EU in 2013).

“This House has already put forward bold ideas for a reform of our treaties. Next month, the Commission will set out our ideas in a communication to the European Parliament and the Council, ahead of the leaders’ discussion organized by the Belgian presidency,” von der Leyen said. A “communication” — as such a blueprint is called — is not a binding legislative proposal.

Last September in her annual address, she talked only about launching a treaty change process “if and where it is needed.”

Belgium is currently chairing the six-month presidency of the Council of the EU, meaning it has a leading role in organizing EU meetings and setting the political priorities for the bloc. The country has put discussing enlargement at the heart of its priorities in the lead-up to the EU Parliament election in June, before which the EU’s political leadership will seek to shape the bloc’s priorities for the next five years, a document known as the “strategic agenda.” Commissioners will discuss the communication on February 27 in Strasbourg, according to a draft agenda of their College meetings.

The European Parliament has been clamoring for wide-ranging treaty changes, voting on proposals to avoid deadlock in the European Council via the use of more qualified majority voting, for its own ability to propose legislation rather than merely amend it, and to shake up the composition of the powerful European Commission, which drafts new EU laws. However, the EU Council steers when it comes to deciding to carve open the EU’s treaties.

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