Our Common Challenges Require Greater European Unity

On 21 and 22 March 2024, the European Union (EU)’s heads of state and government will take part in the European Council in Brussels. They will discuss the EU’s support for Ukraine, recent developments with regards to the accession of new Member States, as well as security and defence, including the recently launched European Defence Industry Strategy (EDIS) and the European Defence Industry Programme (EDIP).

Since Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the EU and its Member States have been providing Ukraine with military, financial and humanitarian aid. Moreover, the European Council decided to open accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova in December 2023, while on Wednesday, 20 March 2024, the European Commission unveiled a communication on pre-enlargement reforms and policy review aimed at assessing how EU policies would be affected by a larger Union and how the European institutions would work. At the same time, several initiatives have been put in place to increase the EU’s defence readiness and make its industry more resilient.

Additionally, on 29 February 2024, the European Parliament passed a report signalling a firm commitment to deepen EU integration in anticipation of future enlargements. Recognising the evolving geopolitical landscape and the imperative for a more cohesive Union, the resolution emphasised the need for proactive measures to enhance the EU’s capacity to accommodate new Member States while maintaining unity and solidarity.

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 European Movement International’s Position 

As we argue in our policy position on the Future of European Security and Defence Cooperation, the EU needs to show strong political will to keep supporting Ukraine and advance its security and defence capabilities. A more uniform security and defence policy is key to further protecting EU citizens, as well as Ukraine, and contributing to international peace and security.

Our recommendation is to develop a fully-fledged European Defence Union (EDU) through the harmonisation of European armed forces, under full control of national parliaments and the European Parliament. This measure, alongside increased investments in defence capabilities through initiatives like the European Peace Facility (EPF) and the European Defence Fund (EDF), is crucial for maintaining peace across the continent.

Furthermore, we stress the necessity of reforming the EU’s decision-making process. Transitioning from unanimity to qualified majority voting (QMV) is imperative to overcome Member States’ vetoes and enable more efficient responses to emerging challenges and external threats. Institutional reform is essential for a credible enlargement perspective and enhancing democratic legitimacy. The current geopolitical landscape underscores the pressing need for institutional reform to prevent deadlocks in the EU’s decision-making and facilitate strategic responses to external influences.




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