The shift was prompted by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Before then, loose plans for expanding were Brussels’ favorite proverbial can to kick down the road, passed from one administration to the next while aspirant members such as North Macedonia — an EU candidate since 2005 — jumped through a series of shapeshifting political and judicial hoops to qualify for access without ever exiting the waiting room.
These days, the mindset has changed. As one EU diplomat put it: “Enlargement is a reality now, and it wasn’t a year and a half ago.”
But Brussels has its own homework to do if the political consensus is to become a practical path. “Before you can have a realistic conversation with the countries coming in, we have to figure out what an enlarged EU would actually look like — and that’s as far as we’ve gotten,” the diplomat, who asked not to be named, told DW. “We know the questions but we don’t really know the answers to them.” Read more here