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"On the Future of EU Enlargement Policy" - IEP Strategy Group on German European Policy 2022/2023

What would a desirable EU enlargement policy until 2042 look like? Representatives from politics, academia, the media and civil society identify courses of development and formulate recommendations for a realignment of Germany's European policy.

The Russian war of aggression on Ukraine has led to fundamental upheavals in the European neighborhood with corresponding effects on the EU's enlargement policy. However, for the future of the (re)order on the European continent and thus also of the EU enlargement policy, a number of relevant and critical questions have arisen since the year of the "Zeitenwende" 2022. For instance, the necessity of deepening the EU as a prerequisite for future enlargements, the candidates' eligibility for accession, the interests and political will of the EU and its member states, and the geopolitical and geo-economic interests of external actors.

All these problem areas and issues demonstrate a rapidly changing set of priorities and interests with regard to EU enlargement, prompting decision-makers to open up thinking spaces, discuss alternative courses of action, and draft visions for the future of the EU.

Against the backdrop of this "Zeitenwende", the IEP strategy group Berlin Futures met in its second edition to rethink the future of EU enlargement policy. In three sessions, representatives from politics, academia, media and civil society developed a vision for EU enlargement policy for the year 2042.

Session 1

  • The participants discussed current challenges of EU enlargement policy and reflected on central elements of a future vision of EU enlargement. Together, using the "visioning" method, an imaginable and preferred core vision of EU enlargement in 2042 was developed, which served as a basis for the further sessions.

Session 2

  • Based on the first workshop, three issues were identified as particularly central: The geopolitical situation and perception of the EU, EU reform, and the state of enlargement and enlargement policy. The 'back-casting' process was used to discuss what strategic priorities, milestones and main objectives of these thematic areas are needed to realize a future EU enlargement policy.

Session 3

  • In the three thematic areas, the participants selected milestones which they considered particularly relevant for the future vision of the EU enlargement policy. Based on these milestones, concrete reforms and policy proposals were discussed. The elaborated reforms were put together and defined through the 'back-casting' process in an action plan by time allocation to the time frame 2042 - 2035 - 2030 - 2025 - present.

The strategy group is chaired by Ambassador Sibylle Katharina Sorg, Head of the European Department at the German Foreign Office, and Prof. Dr. Gaby Umbach, European University Institute Florence and IEP Board Member.