President Jean-Claude Juncker set out the “pathways to unity” options for the 27 member states, a direct response to the Brexit vote last year.
The scenarios are headed “carrying on”, “nothing but the single market”, “those who want more, do more”, “doing less more efficiently” and “doing much more together”.
The blueprint sparks a nine-month debate and forms the basis of discussions which will culminate at a European Council meeting in December after the French and German elections.
The Liberal Democrats’ EU spokesperson, Nick Clegg, claimed the plan showed Europe could change.
“This paper shows that, contrary to the claims of the Brexiteers, the EU is serious about the need for reform.
“Theresa May’s pursuit of a hard Brexit will make Britain’s voice even more irrelevant as wider changes unfold in Europe.”
The proposals have met opposition from some EU nations, such as Poland and Hungary, who fear the proposals will be hijacked by those with federalist ambitions.
The options are:
:: SCENARIO 1 – CARRYING ON
This scenario is that the EU27 “sticks to its course” and that the Commission carries on with “incremental progress”. The option would allow national governments to deepen the EU’s single market, pool some military capabilities and speak collectively on foreign affairs but leave things like border control mostly in the hands of national governments.
:: SCENARIO 2 – NOTHING BUT THE SINGLE MARKET
So the EU focuses on the achievement of the single market, it becomes its “raison d’etre”, strengthening the free movement of goods and capital, but making it tougher in other areas, like free movement of people. A drive to sort divisive issues such as migration, security or defence would be abandoned.
:: SCENARIO 3 – THOSE WHO WANT MORE, DO MORE
“Coalitions of the willing” in areas such as defence, internal security, taxation or social matters. And Eurozone countries integrate further on taxation and social matters.
:: SCENARIO 4 – DOING LESS MORE EFFICIENTLY
By “doing less” the Commission would apparently “better tackle certain priorities together”. So not necessarily do less but do more in “a reduced number of areas”. It would also step back from less core areas, such as employment and social policy and public health.
:: SCENARIO 5 – DOING MUCH MORE TOGETHER
This is going full throttle. The EU27 go “further than ever before in all domains” – the road to federalisation. The EU would get more of its own resources and speak for all of Europe on trade and foreign policy, and would assume global leadership for fighting climate change and on humanitarian issues.