Analysing international policy processes and Lithuania’s role in them
Research Mar 07, 2024

EU reforms in view of enlargement and economic security: towards an integrated approach to european self-transformation

Photo source: Guillaume Périgois / Unsplash

Irrespective of the outcome of the European elections in June, the new political cycle for 2024-2029 will present the EU with a set of acute yet long-term challenges: Russia’s war against Ukraine and its broader confrontation with the West, systemic competition between China and the US, the growing fragmentation of the global economy, accelerating climate change, and the technological transformation. The decisions made by the new EU leadership may thus have consequences for the next several decades of European and Lithuanian security, prosperity, and development.


• Although formulated as a response to external challenges, the Eu¬ropean Union’s enlargement and economic security agendas have a transformative potential: they call for wide-ranging reforms that could fundamentally change the EU’s institutional set-up, decision-making processes, budget, and core policy areas.

• Lithuania has an interest in seeing the full and complete implemen¬tation of these agendas. However, the existing official proposals for possible reforms and Lithuania’s position towards them still pose many unanswered questions.

• Implementing these agendas will be a long-term process. The Euro¬pean Commission is still in the early stages of pre-enlargement policy reviews and has only recently initiated the economic security risk as¬sessment process and launched the public consultations on potential ways to expand the EU toolkit. Accordingly, Lithuania will have plenty of opportunities to make its views known and to shape further discus¬sions in the near to medium term.

• In future discussions, Lithuania should develop and present an inte¬grated approach to the enlargement and economic security agendas. The two agendas are mutually complementary: by strengthening the single market, industrial base, and value chains, enlargement will be a key contribution to EU’s economic security. By committing more in¬vestment and joint programmes for friendly markets, the economic se¬curity agenda can further support the candidates’ accession efforts.

• An integrated approach to the two agendas would help move beyond the current and largely unproductive discussions of whether and what reforms are required for enlargement. Instead, as enlargement is itself a contribution to economic security, the EU should set the goal of ensuring long-term economic security as the bench¬mark for the scope and nature of necessary reforms.

• An integrated approach can help refocus the budget debate away from how to dis¬tribute financing across the so-called traditional (agriculture, cohesion) and other programmes to a more fundamental question of budgetary policy objectives and their complementarity.

• Finally, an integrated approach reveals what additional efforts are needed to achieve both enlargement and the economic security objectives. A major obstacle to delivering on either of the two agendas is the livelihood insecurity felt by many European citizens and residents. As this feeling plays an important role in gener¬ating popular resistance to economic integration, the EU needs to take the lead in tackling livelihood security to make enlargement and economic security possible.

Read the full publication here.


In addition to his work with the Eastern Europe Studies Centre, Justinas Mickus is an associate analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations and the Vilnius Institute of Policy Analysis. His main research areas include European integration, international political economy, industrial and competition policy, and informal cooperation in global politics. His study on the “Lithuanian Grand Strategy and European Defence Integration” was selected among the best 100 global think tank publications in 2018.

Justinas has obtained his education in politics and international studies at Princeton University (A.B, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and the University of Cambridge (MPhil).