Conference on Europe in Berlin
For a larger and stronger EuropeNovember 02nd, 2023
The European Union is facing landmark decisions on reform and enlargement. To discuss these topics, the Foreign Ministers of the EU Member States and ten countries that are seeking membership are meeting at the Federal Foreign Office today.
What would a larger and stronger Europe look like? What should the EU’s strategic position be in a world that is undergoing major geopolitical transformation? How can aspirant countries be supported on their path to EU membership? These topics will take centre stage at the conference that Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock will be hosting today (2 November) under the heading „A larger, stronger Union – making the European Union fit for enlargement and future members fit for accession “. High-level participants from EU Member States, aspirant countries, EU institutions, academia and civil society are expected to attend.
Facing ever greater geopolitical challenges
The conference on Europe is taking place at a decisive point in time, as Foreign Ministers will be meeting against the background of tremendous foreign and security policy challenges.
Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has created a new geopolitical situation, one which Europe has so far faced with nearly unprecedented unity. Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova have now been given the prospect of joining the EU, thereby becoming potential candidates alongside the six Western Balkan candidate countries and Turkey. At the same time, Hamas’ brutal terrorist attacks on Israel of 7 October highlight once again that the EU must adopt a unified stance as an international actor and remain capable of action.
Reforms and enlargement go hand in hand
The EU’s future role as a strong voice in the global arena will hinge on how successfully the EU can reform itself and prepare for future rounds of enlargement.
The question is no longer whether EU enlargement will occur, but rather how and when this will happen.
The conference aims to be a working meeting at which participants will discuss internal reforms, how to strengthen the EU’s capability to act, and what reforms are necessary in countries that are seeking EU membership. Enlargement can only be successful if the enlarged EU grows stronger at the end of the process.
Close cooperation with Spain’s Presidency of the EU Council
Today’s meeting is divided into several parts. Foreign Minister Baerbock will deliver the conference’s opening address. This will be followed by an expert’s presentation and a panel discussion at the level of Foreign Ministers. While Foreign Minister subsequently engage in closed-door, in-depth working group discussions, Anna Lührmann, Minister of State for Europe and Climate, will chair a panel discussion on various EU reform topics.
The conference on Europe at the Federal Foreign Office is being held in close coordination with the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union. It is taking place shortly prior to the publication of the European Commission’s current Communication on enlargement. The scope of the conference is large, covering everything from current discussions on EU enlargement and reforms to the upcoming European Council meeting later this year, at which the Heads of State and Government of the EU intend to decide on what next steps to take.
Foreign Minister Baerbock’s speech at the Conference on Europe in Berlin
Not 1,000 kilometres from Berlin, Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has been raging for 616 days and nights. And in the Middle East: terrorism of Hamas. The most brutal violence Israel has…