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Bringing new countries into the European Union is incredibly complicated

Bringing new countries into the European Union is incredibly complicated

The heads of state and government of European Union countries are scheduled to meet on Friday in Granada, Spain, to attend an informal EU summit. At the top of the agenda is the issue of expanding the union to include countries such as Ukraine and the Western Balkans. Today, Tuesday, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson (centre) affirmed Sweden’s position in the European Union Committee of the Riksdag.

He stressed the strong support among EU countries for enlargement – especially by Ukraine and Moldova. At the same time, he pointed to many obstacles before it becomes a reality.

We should not underestimate the difficulty of bringing new countries into the European Union. This is incredibly complicated. Christerson said there are many different agendas, and pointed to issues of agricultural policy and security.

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, had previously called for the EU to be ready to receive Ukraine and other countries that meet the requirements in 2030. However, Prime Minister Kristersson did not want to limit himself to any particular year.

Ukraine wants formal membership negotiations to begin already this year. At the official EU summit in December, heads of state and government are expected to make a unanimous decision. But according to Kristersson, Ukraine cannot consider this to be the case.

-There are no guarantees for [medlemskapsförhandlingar med Ukraina i år] Somehow, said Christerson, who added that he is first awaiting the Commission’s expansion report, which is expected later this fall.

Support for the government’s line in the Riksdag is broad and no opposition members have raised any objections on this point.

Merit based – no contract changes

Sweden’s position on this issue is that the European Union is open to countries that meet the conditions for joining the Union – and that membership must be based on merit.

-You meet the conditions. Then we mean exactly that, nothing more and nothing less, said the prime minister, who added that it was in Sweden’s geopolitical and economic interest for the enlargement process to be “credible and have popular roots.”

Many EU countries, the European Parliament and experts believe that the enlargement of the European Union must be preceded by an amendment to the founding treaty of the Union. The government opposes this, with significant support in the Riksdag.

Let’s not engage in lengthy and potentially paralyzing discussions about changing the treaty, said Kristersson, who believes the focus should instead be on creating economic growth in the EU.

He reiterated the previous Swedish position of Sweden’s willingness to consider simplifying the EU’s decision-making process by abolishing member states’ veto power on some foreign policy matters. However, the same desire does not exist when it comes to tax issues as the Riksdag wants to retain veto power. There are also proposals to reduce the number of commissioners. Ulf Kristersson, who wants all member states to have a representative in the commission, thinks it is not a good idea.

Other questions

At the informal EU summit, political leaders will also discuss migration and hold a first debate on the EU’s political priorities for the years 2024-2029. No formal decisions have been made, but the leaders are expected to adopt a joint statement.

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