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After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Unity is good, but ambition is better

Future of Europe / DISCUSSION PAPER
Sophie Pornschlegel , Ilke Toygür

Date: 01/06/2022
In view of the volatile geopolitical environment, EU leaders no longer have the luxury of waiting for all 27 member states to find a consensus. In order to lead the way to a Union that is apt for future challenges, the EU should become more ambitious and embrace alternatives, such as differentiated integration, in the coming months and years. Rather than returning to the status quo ante, the EU should use this momentum to progress in five policy fields:

  1. economic governance, with a new recovery package and a reform of the fiscal rules;
  2. security and defence, with improved EU–NATO cooperation and a stronger ‘European pillar’;
  3. energy policy, by quickly steering member states away from dependence on Russian fossil fuels while simultaneously ensuring admissible energy prices for consumers and respecting the climate targets;
  4. enlargement and neighbourhood policy, by rethinking its aims and creating options for countries that are unlikely to become EU members in the foreseeable future; and
  5. the rule of law, to safeguard the Union’s values ‘at home’.

Both the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion revealed that the EU institutions and leaders are capable of managing crises swiftly and decisively. This reality certainly increases its legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens as well as its allies. The European Union could use this moment of change to increase its ambition for reforms and for moving European integration forward.

This should encourage leaders to think about all the options for designing the Union’s future. This is not a time for black and white thinking – Treaty change or nothing –, but rather a time to explore all the shades of grey for securing necessary reforms. If like-minded countries could lead the way, others may also follow. The changing and evolving positions in the EU could help secure more inclusive alliances for moving forward. The political momentum to do so is finally here.

Read the full paper here.
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