PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that the EU should “perhaps” move toward a “multi-speed” union as it considers integrating Ukraine, Moldova and Western Balkan countries.
Macron said the EU must reform if it wants to integrate new nations and must reach consensus with more than 30 member countries.
“The risk is to think that we can expand without reform. I can testify that it is already difficult enough for Europe to move forward on sensitive subjects at 27. With 32 or 35 members, it will not be easier,” he declared during the annual gathering of ambassadors. from France to Paris.
“We will have to be bold to accept more integration in certain areas and perhaps even a multi-speed Europe,” he said.
The French president did not specify how this multi-speed Europe would work, but added that an overhaul of EU procedures was necessary for the bloc to deepen and maintain “its attractiveness”.
According to several French officials, the Macron government is working on several proposals for a multi-speed Europe, which would include the creation of informal groups of member countries that would work on specific policy areas.
Macron also hinted that he would detail his thoughts on EU enlargement and reform in the coming months, and ahead of next year’s European elections.
Ukraine and Moldova obtained EU candidate country status in June, and there are calls for the EU to open accession negotiations by December.
Despite signs that the Ukrainian counter-offensive is moving more slowly than expected, Macron also reiterated his full support for Ukraine.
“Russia cannot and must not win. It would be the end of all confidence in international law. (Ukraine) will be an investment in diplomacy and resources in the years to come. We cannot pretend that this effort did not exist,” he told diplomats.