The European Commission presented a paper Wednesday on the future of the European Union after Brexit, calling on EU leaders and the European Parliament to decide how the bloc should evolve by 2025.
Here are the five scenarios presented:
1. "Carrying on"
In this scenario, the European Union remains on its current course focusing on implementing and upgrading its current reform agenda and tackling new problems as they arise. The unity of the bloc is preserved even though major disputes among members could prevent cooperation in certain areas.
2. "Nothing but the single market"
The EU is decentralized leaving the single market as the only binding force of the bloc. EU regulations are gradually stripped away in most policy areas and there is no cooperation on migration, security and defence. Countries have more freedom to make decisions, but there is less capacity for collective action.
3. "Those who want more do more"
This scenario places the onus for closer cooperation on groups of countries within the bloc that choose to deepen their partnership in certain areas. While allowing different levels of cooperation preserves the unity of the union, EU citizens could begin to have different rights based on whether their country is part of such "coalitions of the willing."
4. "Doing less more efficiently"
The 27 EU countries decide on a number of priority areas where they deepen cooperation and grant greater enforcement powers to the EU. In other areas, the EU's role becomes limited. While this option would help the EU deliver on certain expectations, it might be difficult to get consensus from member states on what areas should be prioritized.
5. "Doing much more together"
This scenario envisions accelerated integration among member states with the EU gaining more power over decision-making and the sharing of resources across the bloc, including the creation of a defence union. Such an arrangement could allow for quicker and more effective EU decision-making but could alienate EU citizens who prefer power to remain with national authorities.