European Western Balkans

EU leaders adopt Strategic Agenda 2024-2029, preparing for an enlarged Union one of the goals

European Council family photo, 27 June 2024; Photo: European Union

BRUSSELS – Presidents and Prime Ministers of the European Union adopted the Strategic Agenda for the 2024-2029 period at the European Council Summit on Thursday. Under the section “Preparing for a bigger and stronger Union”, the Strategy says that “there is new dynamism in the enlargement process” and that “both the EU and aspiring members now have a responsibility to make the most of this opportunity and communicate this clearly”.

Drawn up every five years, the Strategic Agenda sets out the main priorities for the next institutional cycle, which corresponds to the term of the European Parliament.

The Strategic Agenda for the previous five-year cycle, 2019-2024, did not mention enlargement. Meanwhile, the new Strategic Agenda, adopted yesterday, states that the new geopolitical reality underscored the importance of enlargement as a geostrategic investment in peace, security, stability and prosperity.

“The European Union will follow a merit-based approach to accession with tangible incentives. It will support aspiring members in meeting the accession criteria through appropriate instruments and will use all possibilities to further advance gradual integration”, the document reads.

The Agenda also stresses that the EU will encourage reform efforts, notably with regard to the rule of law, as well as regional integration, good neighbourly relations, reconciliation and the resolution of bilateral disputes.

“In parallel, the European Union will undertake the necessary internal reforms to ensure that our policies are fit for the future and financed in a sustainable manner and that the EU institutions continue to function and act effectively”, the section on enlargement concludes.

The enlargement is in the section of the document titled “A strong and secure Europe”. It covers the issues of foreign policy, security, defence and migration.

“The full-scale invasion of Ukraine is also an attack on a free and democratic Europe. The European Union will stand by Ukraine as it fights to retain its independence and sovereignty and regain its territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders”, this section states.

Other parts of the agenda focus on upholding European values, bolstering the Union’s competitiveness, making a success of the green and digital transitions and promoting an innovation- and business-friendly environment.

The document states that the next Multiannual Financial Framework for the Union will have to reflect the outlined priorities, ensuring that the EU budget is fit for the future.

European Council sets roadmap for internal reforms

A part of the European Council conclusions adopted on 27 June concern the Roadmap for future work on internal reforms, which should advance in parallel with the enlargement process, “as both the Union and future Member States must be ready at the time of accession”.

The European Council took note of the Commission’s Communication on pre-enlargement reforms and policy reviews and invited it to present by spring 2025 in-depth policy reviews in four areas. The first of the areas covers values, including tools and processes to protect the rule of law, while the second covers EU policies aimed at strengthening its competitiveness and sovereignty.

The third area of the policy reviews covers budget, including in the context of the next negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework for which the proposal will be presented by 1 July 2025. The fourth area covers governance.

The European Council stated it would review progress in June 2025 and give further guidance as needed

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