In order to work better, this European Union cannot escape the issue of its institutions. We won’t be able to continue with a Commission of nearly 30 members, as if they each had to take care of their country’s interests. That’s neither the meaning nor the spirit of the European project. A 15strong Commission will have to be our goal, and in order to make progress let us be simple: the major founding countries should give up their commissioners, for a start! We will set the example. This will enable us to bring together skills rather than fragmenting them.
This EU of the market and law has a remit to open itself up more widely in a few years’ time. Why? Because this European Union — based on values and this single market, simplified and overhauled in this way, closer to our citizens and more stringent on trade — is a Europe whose borders are not finalized.
When they fully respect the acquis and democratic requirements, this EU will have to open itself up to the Balkan countries, because our EU is still attractive and its aura is a key factor of peace and stability on our continent. They’ll have to respect the conditions stipulated, but securing them to a European Union reinvented in this way is a precondition for their not turning their backs on Europe and moving towards either Russia or Turkey, or towards authoritarian powers that don’t currently uphold our values.
In the same way, in a few years’ time the UK will be able to find its place, if it wishes, in this EU refocused on uncompromising values and an effective market. This is why you haven’t heard me talking about Brexit this afternoon. The discussions under way will not define Europe’s future. But in this revamped, simplified European Union that I propose, I cannot imagine that the UK would be unable to find its place.