Of all five scenarios proposed by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for the way forward after Brexit, the real scenario is Number 3: “Those who want more do more,” which is another way of saying that the EU will be multi-speed, EURACTIV.com was told. The Commission published today its White Paper (1 March) on the future of the EU-post-Brexit.
A Commission source said that Juncker had proposed five scenarios for Europe by 2025, because if it had produced only one, “everybody” would start “shooting at it”.
But the real scenario hidden among the other four was Number 3. “This is the way we want to go,” the official said. He also said that scenario 1 (Carrying on) was the status quo, that scenario 2 (Nothing but the single market) was negative in terms of integration, and that 4 and 5 (Doing less more efficiently, and Doing much more together) were added “for the sake of having them”.
“It is about respecting what we have already,” said the official with respect to existing divisions such as eurozone and non-eurozone, “but in some areas, going further”.
“With the concentric approaches, Europe a la carte, two-speed Europe, all of this, we say to the member states – guys, it’s time to carve this out,” the official said.
The Commission’s logic was not to stay in the logic of the “sinking ship”, but to provide a forward-looking paper as a basis for discussion not only among governments, but also among citizens, he explained.
On 25 March, the White Paper will be official handed over to the 27 governments in Rome, and they will be asked until December to provide input “in a structured way”.
The paper doesn’t envisage changes to EU treaties. “For treaty change, there is no market,” the official said. “We want to keep it on a technocratic level. Not a political level,” he added.
The Commission is of course conscious that a multi-speed Europe is by far a scenario which can receive support from non-eurozone countries and in particular from Poland, a country with no plans to join the euro in the foreseeable future.
Consequently, the Commission foresees that by December, other scenarios will emerge, EURACTIV was told. In terms of potential scenarios, the official named one favoured by southern member states, another one by the “friends of EU defence”, a third from those supporting the liberal approach, and one from countries opposing a common EU response to the refugee crisis.
A number of papers are expected to be published by the Commission before December, specifically on developing the social dimension of the Union, on deepening the Economic and Monetary Union, on harnessing globalisation, on the future of European defence and on the future of EU finances, also with a horizon for 2025, as the White Book itself.
The official said that the Commission intends to listen to what governments will say and will try and be “an accountable scapegoat”.
Because of its position on relocation, Hungary’s PM Viktor Orbán could be one of the Spitzenkandidaten for the 2019 elections, the official said, as an extreme example of how the process could go on.
By Georgi Gotev