French president seeks broader political club including non-EU members in wake of invasion.
Emmanuel Macron has urged the creation of a broad “community” of European democracies to include non-EU members amid calls to reform the way the continent is governed following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In a speech to the European Parliament, Macron also joined a push for the rewriting of EU treaties to speed decision-making in the 27-member bloc.
Macron, re-elected French president last month, recalled that his predecessor François Mitterrand had proposed such a broad European club as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989.
Mitterrand’s idea “posed a good question and the question remains — how to organise Europe politically in a broader way than the EU,” Macron said in Strasbourg on the anniversary of Robert Schuman’s 1950 declaration on European integration. “It’s our historic obligation to respond to that today and to create what I would call a European political community.”
He added: “The European Union, given the level of its integration and ambition, cannot be in the short term the only means of structuring the European continent.”
The proposal comes as EU leaders rethink the way the union handles relations with its close neighbours as a result of the war in Ukraine. One of the key questions is how to manage the aspirations of a range of non-EU countries aspiring to join the bloc.
The new community would allow European countries adhering to the EU’s “core values” to co-operate on security, energy, transport, infrastructure and the movement of people, the French president said. Joining it, he added, would not prejudice a country’s application for EU membership.
Macron said he hoped Ukraine would be formally accepted as a candidate for membership, but countries aspiring to become members are likely to view his idea with suspicion, given frustrations that the union has been stalling their applications. Macron said the new club was needed because would-be EU members such as Ukraine were waiting for years and even decades before they could join.
Main Photo: Ludovic Marin / Pool via REUTERS