Last week the European Commission made available a white paper that outlines five different scenarios for the bloc until 2025. The document also highlights the EU milestones since its foundation, especially regarding peace, trade and cultural diversity. The text is a prelude to the upcoming summit of Rome (the event will celebrate the 60th anniversary of European integration).
The white paper entitled “The Future of Europe: Reflections and scenarios for the EU27 by 2025” outlines five different angles as follows:
SCENARIO 1: CARRYING ON
The bloc continues to reform its institutions while focusing on job creation, improving infrastructure, and strengthening the single market. Security will also receive special attention taking into account the threat of terrorism and the migrant crisis. Member States acknowledge that they need to improve intelligence sharing by establishing open channels.
SCENARIO 2: NOTHING BUT THE SINGLE MARKET
The European Commission analyses the single market, one of the cornerstones of regional integration. For the authorities, policymaking is sometimes complex, leading to stalemates. Where Member States fail to find a common ground, the parties end up negotiating bilateral solutions.
The lack of coordination in some areas such as monetary policy can result in many shortcomings to addressing financial crises. These obstacles have to be overcome once the single market is the main “raison d’être” of the EU27.
SCENARIO 3: THOSE WHO WANT MORE DO MORE
The bloc recognizes that Member States have different capabilities, therefore Brussels encourages the so-called “coalition of the willing”. Some countries are allowed to take the leadership in some domains according to their interest to advance a particular agenda. This shall not compromise the status of other members.
This initiative, however, might lead to a multiple speed Europe. The bloc will need to establish clear guidelines on transparency and accountability. Such scenario could facilitate cooperation on defence and monetary affairs.
SCENARIO 4: DOING LESS MORE EFFICIENTLY
The EU is portrayed by many MEPs as an expensive institution. Besides, in many areas the bloc might lack adequate funds to implement projects. Therefore, regional authorities would like to work in the most efficient way possible.
To succeed in this scenario Member States shall increase efforts on research, innovation, security, trade, migration, security and border control. The Coast Guard plays a pivotal role in securing borders and managing the migrant crisis.
From the Commission point of view, the obstacle for this scenario is the lack of understanding among Member States to define priorities.
SCENARIO 5: DOING MUCH MORE TOGETHER
Brussels wants to reinforce unity. As a political entity, the EU has a lot of political clout in international fora. This is a bold message to Member States after the Brexit vote.
As European economies become more integrated, Member States can benefit from many common goods provided by the bloc. The EU can facilitate the implementation of new regulations. This is extremely positive for countries that lack conditions to prevent eventual shocks.
While the an empowered EU can speed up policy implementation, this fifth scenario might to lead to a side effect: democratic gap. As Brussels increases its power vis-à-vis national governments, critics and populists will continue to state the lack of legitimacy of the bloc as whole.