The President of the European Council: “The Granada summit is the starting point in the enlargement of the EU” | International

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The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, during an event in the Slovenian town of Bled, on August 28.Daniel Novakovic (AP)

The agenda of the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, is marked in deep red this Friday, October 6, when the leaders of the countries of the European Union meet in Granada. Its intention is that in the Andalusian city the debate will be opened on the reforms that the EU needs to prepare for a new great enlargement towards the East. “We have to reform to be prepared. This is our task and a big difference compared to a few years ago, even a few months ago, because a few months ago we did not have this mentality. [Ahora] This is very clear in Granada, which is the starting point of the process,” explains Michel in a meeting with more than a dozen media outlets, including EL PAÍS, to give his vision of what is going to happen in a couple of days. .

The draft conclusions of the summit contain five topics that the heads of State and Government will address: defense, competitiveness, global action, migration and enlargement. Most of the questions come about the last issue and in his answers, the leader, former Belgian Prime Minister, leaves no doubt that for him it is also the most outstanding issue of the Andalusian event. “This debate that we are going to start in Granada will continue with the Belgian presidency [la presidencia rotatoria del Consejo de la UE, en el primer semestre del año que viene] with the aim of agreeing on guidelines and principles next year.”

A few weeks ago, Michel himself pointed out 2030 as the moment in which the EU had to be ready to receive Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and the group of countries in the Western Balkans (Serbia, North Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia- Herzegovina, Kosovo and Montenegro). Then came a document from 12 experts, commissioned and sponsored by France and Germany, which pointed to the same time horizon. There are other reports. Michel knows that many of these countries have reasons to be skeptical because they have been official candidates for years, but with the negotiations stuck amid the indifference of the Twenty-Seven. Although he defends that now it is different because with the Granada debate and its place on the agenda "a clear message" is sent.

He reminds applicants that they too must make efforts to join the community club: “They know that they have to improve the rule of law. They know they have to fight corruption. They know that they need to make justice an independent body that respects freedom of the press,” he lists.

Regarding the duties that community partners have to perform, however, it is not specific. It does not enter into whether it is necessary to further limit the matters that require unanimous decisions by the 27 partners, how to ensure that there are effective sanctions when the rule of law is breached or whether it is necessary to reduce the number of commissioners, some of the points that have been proposed Franco-German experts.

The president of the European Council emphasizes that the important thing is that the debate is opened, something taboo until very recently, and leaves for a later phase a discussion that until now has had a paralyzing effect: Should the treaties be changed to enlarge the EU? ? “We know that there are different opinions on the Council table about treaty changes, but in recent years I have had the impression that treaty change was a kind of strange debate. If you were in favor of the treaty change, you were good, you were European. If you did not defend the treaty change, it was suspected that you were not sincerely pro-European. I see the situation differently. First, we should discuss what kind of Europe we want for the future. What town project do we want? What do we want to do together? How do we want to decide together? How do we want to finance our common project?”

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In Granada there will also be a debate on migration. The Twenty-seven have been trying to close an agreement on this issue for years. Last Thursday it seemed that it was close, but in the end there was no agreement on the regulations for the management of extraordinary crises. Italy did not accept the changes proposed by Spain to attract Germany and everything remains up in the air. That this specific point sneaks into the leaders' discussion is a possibility. But Michel does not believe that it will end up contaminating the debate on enlargement: “It is a difficult debate. But I wouldn't say it's toxic." “This is an ideological debate for some. That's why I know that in Granada it will probably be the most difficult part of the meetings. “We will do everything possible to overcome the differences, but I do not underestimate them.”

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