WG on Staged Integration for future EU Enlargement: 5th session  

 As the question of enlargement is now fully back on the EU political agenda, our thematic Working Group is dedicated to elaborating the concept of ‘staged integration’, or gradual accession to the EU sector per sector pending full membership, as a practical way forward in this controversial policy domain.  

 The work of the Group was initiated in April 2022 in Warsaw during the previous ELF General Assembly. Since then, three other expert sessions were held in Thessaloniki, Dublin, and Neum. The September meeting in Brussels was dedicated to discussing the most recent political developments on this issue, such as granting of the EU candidacy status to Ukraine and Moldova and the significance of this for the enlargement process.  

 Mr Thomas Hagleitner, Head of Unit for Western Balkans from DG NEAR has presented the European Commission’s policy vision on the challenges related to the enlargement project. After him, Ms Vesna Pucis, former Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia, has shared her insider perspective on the issue, based on her 20 years of policymaking experience and the successful accession of her country to the bloc.  

 The keynote addresses were followed by a discussion among the participants, masterfully moderated by Mr Emil Kirjas, one of the key experts on the topic and a standing member of ELF WG on Enlargement. The participants included former and current politicians, policymakers, representatives of the embassies of the EU candidate and potential candidate countries. Among other issues, they discussed possible caveats of the European Political Community initiative and necessary elements of the staged integration approach (deadlines, milestones, conditionality), with an insightful focus on national perspectives. 

 The results of the Group’s work will be summarized in an ELF policy paper on staged integration to be published by the Council Summit in December 2022.  


WG on Trade and Transatlantic Governance: Kick-off meeting  

The first session of the WG on Trade took place in parallel. It has kicked-started the debate on governing the future EU-US trade relations, specifically in light of the EU’s course on strategic autonomy and the experience of the Trade and Technology Council (TTC).  

Ever since its conception, the EU has been a worldwide leader in setting international norms and regulating industry standards across national markets. This so-called the ‘Brussels Effect’ is allegedly contributing to the development of European strategic autonomy in critical industrial sectors. Nevertheless, how can we reconcile European Strategic Autonomy and leadership aspirations with the importance of transatlantic relations for the global economy and the liberal international order? In this context, the future of transatlantic relations depends on creating new norms and institutions to govern the EU-US cooperation across a variety of sectors. The recent experience of the TTC can serve as the basis for elaborating domain-specific coordination formats.  

The discussion was opened by Mr Ricardo Pelaez, Deputy Senior Commercial Officer from the US Mission to the EU. He discussed the last year’s experience with the TTC and the potential of this platform to be replicated for other policy areas. After him, Mr Thibaut L’Ortye, Director of Public Affairs at the American Chamber of Commerce in the EU has provided the perspective of the US companies and industries on the same question. Following these addresses, the discussion unfolded under the moderation of Dr Antonios Nestoras, Head of Policy and Research and Interim Executive Director at ELF. The participants addressed such questions as whether the TTC format can be improved as to become more inclusive and responsive to the policy challenges and whether it can include more modules/clusters.  

This initial debate will be followed up by more expert meetings raising more specific questions on the topic and aiming to suggest concrete policy solutions for the future.  

Learn more about ELF’s Working Groups.

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