Opening the May plenary session, the EESC president Christa Schweng stressed: "United we must face the consequences of the war in Ukraine and the geopolitical challenges ahead. Europe must evolve from a champion in crisis management to a world champion in shaping the future".

"The Kremlin has been wrong: about its own military capabilities, about the strength of Ukrainian resistance, about European determination and unity" said the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, who proposed a new approach to enlargement negotiations.

Given the slow progress of the negotiations with the Western Balkan countries, and fresh membership applications from Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, the EU should envisage a "proportionate and managed integration" approach.

According to Michel, "a solution would lie on a gradual and progressive integration during the accession process". The European Council president talked about the creation of a European geopolitical community, as the EU assumes greater political leadership. Foreign policy would be a major area of cooperation within this Community. "The aim is to forge convergence and deepen operational cooperation to address common challenges, peace, stability and security on our continent", said the president.

However, he clarified: "this initiative is in no way intended to replace enlargement or to find a new excuse to procrastinate. Nor is it a guarantee for those who participate that they will one day be a member of the EU". (at)