The war in Ukraine, triggering membership applications from Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia and coming on top of widespread calls for reinvigorating the stagnant accession process in the Western Balkans, has led Presidents Emmanuel Macron and Charles Michel to open up a fundamental debate on the EU’s enlargement and neighbourhood policies. Ideas include a revamping of accession procedures and creation of a new ‘community’ to include potentially all of Europe except Russia and Belarus. However, the speeches of these leaders are so far only initial sketches, and it will be up to the European Council on 23 June to take these issues forward.
This paper explores options for the possible membership, organisation and functions of a new community, together with some details of a reformed accession process that would be implemented in stages, replacing the present binary ‘in’ or ‘out’ procedure. Politically it is of first-rate importance that the proposed new community would be complementary to the accession process, and not an alternative to it.