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Relancer l'Europe : Retrouver l'esprit de Rome - version anglaise

22 février 2017 : Relancer l'Europe : Retrouver l'esprit de Rome - version anglaise ( rapport d'information )


Stabilising the contours of the European Union must be a priority. For this purpose, the European Union must initiate a pause in its expansion. It should moreover preserve close links with the United Kingdom, in particular for defence and countering the terrorist threat.

1. Initiating a pause in its expansion

The European Union has expanded very quickly over the last twenty years and no-one questions this historic success, which allowed for the reconciliation of the two parts of Europe separated by Yalta and the Cold War. These enlargements have contributed to peace and prosperity. Today, however, the contours of the European Union should be stabilised so that we stop referring to the former and new member States. A pause in the enlargement process is required in order to better integrate the latest thirteen member states and to consolidate the current total of twenty-eight member states since their arrival.

a) The benefits of a credible expansion policy: the preservation of the fundamental principles

The prospect of accession to the European Union continues for the candidates, to promote change and consolidate reforms that lead to a genuine economic and democratic stability. This is why it is generally agreed that a credible enlargement process is a good policy and constitutes an irreplaceable tool in order to strengthen the candidate countries of South-East Europe, because it helps them to implement a programme of bold and deep-seated political and economic reforms.

The European Union could only reiterate its unflinching support for these countries and commends the efforts deployed by the candidate countries. It is in this sense that the enlargement policy continues to deliver results, and it is still essential to consider it as serving fundamental EU principles. The European Union will not cease to focus its efforts on the consolidation of the rule of law, security, the rights of citizens, democratic institutions, administrative reform, economic development and competitiveness.

b) Reasons for the pause in the enlargement

Upon taking office, the new president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, indicated that the enlargement process would have frozen its mandate. Clearly this would mean a moratorium of five years during which the European Union would not accept any new member state.

The Senate's monitoring group welcomed and initiated a pause in the European Union's enlargement process. The European project must first of all be consolidated and relaunched, this is today's priority: "strengthening the foundations before enlarging the house ".

Naturally, the announcement of the moratorium concerned those that believed that opportunities for Western Balkan countries to join the European Union would be reduced. This was not the direction the moratorium was intended to go in, on the contrary, negotiations could be developed further.

This moratorium is based on the idea that the enlargement is not desirable in the short term as the European Union needs to be reinforced and to better integrate the newest EU members before enlarging. Moreover, there is a feeling of "fatigue" in respect of the enlargement among European public opinion. Lastly, the difficulties encountered by Romania and Bulgaria, since their entry into the Union, has caused the negotiators to formulate stringent requirements and to request stronger guarantees from the candidate countries.

The enlargement ceases to be a short and medium term priority for the European Union, but the accession negotiations still constitute a very positive and key European policy.

Recommendation on the EU enlargement

- Confirming the moratorium on the enlargement of the European Union

2. Preserving close links over the medium term with the United Kingdom in particular defence and combating terrorism

As a permanent member, like ourselves, of the UN Security Council, which belongs to NATO, the owner of nuclear power in Europe, the United Kingdom is a key player in defence in Europe and already dedicates 2% of its budget to defence expenditure. Its capital expenditure is equivalent to ours, that is nearly 11 billion euros. Our two countries preserve industrial and technological defence capabilities. This is the foundation of a former reliable and robust bilateral relationship6(*) and strategic, operational and industrial cooperation7(*).

The treaties of Lancaster House uniting France and the United Kingdom (2010) aim to prosper, but following Brexit, France will lose, within the European Union, a partner that shares its strategic and operational experience and which has an army engaged in the various overseas theatres of operations.

It is essential in this context that the intergovernmental dynamic that we are all in favour of defining, based on the model of an "extended Lancaster House", an intergovernmental framework of regular consultation and multilateral cooperation bringing together at least the United Kingdom, France, Germany and without doubt also Poland, Spain and Italy, at least in the initial stages, and which could be subsequently widened. It is essential that consultations, cooperation and joint actions are continued, not only within the French-British bilateral framework, but also within a European multilateral intergovernmental framework, so as not to leave Great Britain outside of the European defence initiative.

Agreements should also be entered into with the United Kingdom in security and the fight against terrorism

* 6 The British response to the call for European solidarity came very quickly when France requested the implementation of article 42-7 of TEU, following the November 2015 attacks.

* 7 In March 2016, during the bilateral summit of Amiens, key partnerships were announced: the joint realisation of the UCAS operational demonstrators between now and 2025 and the renewal by MBDA of all of the in-depth strike missile systems.