De Croo doubts whether major expansion of EU is possible by 2030

Prime minister Alexander De Croo has said he doubts whether a significant expansion of the European Union by 2030 is possible. He made the comments on Friday before the start of an informal European summit in Granada, Spain.

Heads of government are gathering to reflect on the future direction of the EU. In addition to defence and security, strategic autonomy and the competitiveness of the business community, the accession of a number of Balkan countries and Ukraine is one of the major themes.

"There is a lot of work that needs to be done"

European Council president Charles Michel has set 2030 as a target date for expansion, but Belgium has doubts about this, De Croo said: "There is a lot of work that needs to be done, both on their side, but also on our side. To say that we will fix that in a few years, I still have major doubts about that."

Countries that want to join the EU must meet specific criteria regarding democracy and the rule of law, adopt European legislation and survive economically in the single market. "You cannot cut corners. There are very clear criteria, and there is still a lot of work before those countries are at that level," De Croo said.

Financial implications

Ukraine joining the EU would cost 183 billion euros over seven years, reported the British newspaper the Financial Times. This would result in considerable shifts in the distribution of agricultural subsidies and economic support funds, for example. These budgetary implications are currently being considered.

“Everyone knows that it cannot continue to be the case that all countries receiving net payments today can count on this to continue in the future,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said. Currently, countries from the former eastern bloc receive more money from the European budget than they contribute. "They will have to contribute to financing economic growth in the accession countries."

According to De Croo, the decision-making procedures also need to be adjusted. "It is not easy with 27 member states," he said. Scholz emphasised that the unanimity rule in areas such as foreign policy and taxation should be rebuilt. He said that the number of seats per member state in the European Parliament and the number of European commissioners should also be reconsidered. "You can't keep inventing ministries."

"Just because it's difficult doesn't mean we shouldn't tackle this"

Michel believes that setting a date for prospective countries to implement reforms will aid them in working towards the criteria required to join the EU. "I know there are different sensitivities within the EU, but just because it's difficult doesn't mean we shouldn't tackle this," he said.

The draft declaration from the Granada summit says that enlargement is "a geostrategic investment in peace, security, stability and prosperity". Since the accession of Croatia in 2013, the addition of new member states has no longer been a priority, but the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 put Ukraine and Moldova in the running to become new member states.

Other countries with candidate status are Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Turkey. Negotiations with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan have been put on hold since the failed 2018 coup. Georgia is considered a potential candidate, as is Kosovo, which is not recognised by all member states.


Member state leaders at the informal summit in Granada © PHOTO LAPRESSE/PALAZZO CHIGI/FILIPPO ATTILI

Related News

Website preview
EU-Ukraine summit: EU leaders to focus on military aid, Ukraine lobbying for membership
Many EU commissioners are traveling to Ukraine this Friday, February 3, to take part in a two-day summit in Kyiv. Ukraine wants to tackle EU...
Website preview
EU hails Ukraine's "considerable efforts" to join the block
The European Union underlined, at the end of an unprecedented summit this Friday, February 3, in Kyiv, the "considerable efforts" made in recent...




Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.


Belga News Agency delivers dependable, rapid and high-quality information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from Belgium and abroad to all Belgian media. The information covers all sectors, from politics, economics and finance to social affairs, sports and culture, not to mention entertainment and lifestyle.

Every day, our journalists and press photographers produce hundreds of photos and news stories, dozens of online information items, plus audio and video bulletins, all in both national languages. Since the end of March 2022 English has been added as a language.

For public institutions, businesses and various organisations that need reliable information, Belga News Agency also offers a comprehensive range of corporate services to meet all their communication needs.


Arduinkaai 29 1000 Brussels