EU Ministers Discuss the Possibility of Expanding the European Union to 36 Member States
Today, in Spain, at an informal meeting of European Union ministers held in the city of Murcia, participants explored the prospects of expanding the European Union to encompass 36 member states.
During the two-day ministerial meeting, EU officials will also deliberate on the necessary changes within the bloc itself and its legislation to facilitate this expansion. This information has been reported in an announcement published by Spain, currently holding the presidency of the EU Council, on the official website of the bloc.
"On September 28-29, in the city of Murcia, an informal meeting of ministers for general affairs and regional development will take place to discuss matters related to EU enlargement, its Open Strategic Autonomy (OSA), and the EU's regional development policy beyond 2027. On the first day of the informal ministerial meeting on Thursday, September 28, the main focus will be on the internal preparations of the EU for a potential expansion to 36 member states," the announcement states.
Simultaneously, discussions are underway on how to enhance support for candidate countries within the EU, the rest of the world, and third countries, directly linked to the concept of Open Strategic Autonomy (OSA).
These two interconnected issues form the basis for preparing a new Strategic Agenda for the EU, which will be approved in 2024 during Belgium's presidency, with elements already being outlined during the Spanish semester.
The informal ministerial meeting in Murcia will consist of a series of working sessions led by Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Oliver Varhelyi, each addressing one of the key aspects of preparations for potential expansion:
- The impact of expansion on EU policies.
- The concept of gradual integration (how to bring candidate countries closer to the EU over a prolonged accession process).
- Institutional issues that need reforming to make the EU fit for future expansion.
The working lunch will focus on preparations for an informal meeting of heads of state and government in Granada, as well as two upcoming events: the European Political Community Summit on October 5 and the Open Strategic Autonomy, which will be at the centre of discussions at the heads of state and government meeting on October 6.
Discussions on EU reform are actively taking place in the context of preparations for its expansion, primarily involving Eastern European and Western Balkan countries, aimed at reducing their dependency on Russia's influence.
As of today, the European Union comprises 27 member states.