Juncker to outline EU forking paths
By Peter Teffer
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to present several scenarios for the future of European integration in a strategy document to be published on Wednesday (1 March).
According to a botched European Commission press release, the title of the so-called white paper would be Avenues for unity for the EU at 27.
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The press release can be found in the Commission's database and is dated Tuesday 28 February, but only contains a title. The subtitle and body of the text consist only of the words “empty”.
Later this month, British prime minister Theresa May is expected to trigger the process which will lead to Brexit – her country leaving the EU.
The bloc's leaders see the event as an opportunity to renew the focus of the European project.
Juncker's spokesman Margaritis Schinas told journalists on Tuesday that the white paper will be presented at 3PM on Wednesday, and that it contained possible options for the future of the EU.
“Positive and realistic options, which are not mutually exclusive, which will lead towards unity and cooperation between the 27,” said Schinas, adding that Juncker would discuss the “final version” with his commissioners already on Tuesday afternoon.
Last week in a speech, Juncker hinted at the contents of the paper by positing that “the time has come” to decide on a Europe of various speeds - the notion that not every member state follows integration at the same pace.
There is already a de facto Europe of various speeds, with a core group participating in the eurozone, and others still having national currencies. Some member states have opt-outs on specific policy areas.
According to Belgian newspaper Le Soir - a favourite of Juncker's - the strategy document will outline at least four scenarios.
The first is to continue European integration without any significant changes; the second is to move to a more federal and centralised system; the third is the multiple-speed Europe idea; and the fourth some combination of the first three.
The white paper is timed to be able to influence the debate of EU leaders who will meet for a summit in Rome on 25 March, on the 60-year anniversary of the Rome treaty, which established the European Economic Community.