European Commission: scenarios for the future of the EU

Where should the future European Union of 27 Member States find itself in 2025? This question is occupying not only the European Commission following Brexit. A range of scenarios for the future of the EU have been presented in a white paper. In addition, there will be "reflection papers" in the months ahead – inter alia on the social dimension of the EU and on economic and monetary union (EMU). BDI and BDA welcome the initiative, but the separate consideration of the social dimension and EMU runs the risk of dealing with economic policy and social policy in isolation.

Commission President Juncker has set out five possible scenarios for the future of the EU. As well as a "carrying on" scenario, themes such as the possibility of a Europe of different speeds or an EU doing much more together are up for discussion. Juncker did not want to divulge which scenario the European Commission prefers in the debate with the European Parliament in March 2017. According to Juncker, the individual scenarios are neither mutually exclusive nor exhaustive.

Next move: EU Heads of State and Government

It is now up to the Member States to take a position on the individual scenarios. EU Heads of State and Government gave initial hints on the scenario they prefer at their meeting in Rome to mark the 60th birthday of the Rome Treaties. According to the closing declaration, the Member States should in future "act together, at different paces and intensity where necessary". The political signal is unambiguous: whereas British Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking to close her own ranks through a general election, the 27 EU Member States are developing a shared vision of the future without the UK.

Roadmap until December 2017

The European Commission has given fresh impetus to the debate on the future of the EU with the white paper. Following on from the EU summit in Rome on 25 March 2017, the Commission will present a number of "reflection papers" in order to deepen the deliberation process further "without presenting definitive decisions at this stage". The aim is to draw first conclusions at the European Council in December 2017 and to conclude the further process before the European election in June 2019.

BDI and BDA will contribute intensively to the discussion process and underline that competitiveness and economic growth are the preconditions for jobs and a sustainable social policy. Economic and social progress must go hand in hand.