Picture with the speakers the fourth Democracy Reform Conversation

Paving the way towards EU reform and enlargement

In the fourth online Democracy Conversation organized within the EU Democracy Reform Observatory Tiago Antunes, Portuguese Secretary of State for European Affairs, Corina Stratulat from the European Policy Centre, and Dominik Hierlemann, Senior Advisor from the Bertelsmann Stiftung tackled the pressing question: how can the EU tackle an ambitious double challenge of enlargement and internal reform?

Contact Persons

Foto Angela Jain
Dr. Angela Jain
Senior Project Manager
Foto Andrey Demidov
Dr. Andrey Demidov
Project Manager


We now know that we need to reform. Now we need to focus both on the timetable and the roadmap for both reform and enlargement,’ emphasized Thiago Antunes, underlining the urgency of the reform agenda.

Following the landmark European Council meeting in December 2023, the debate has shifted from 'why' to 'how' both processes should unfold. It's clear that without reform, the EU's institutional framework will struggle to accommodate the challenges of an expanded EU30+. Failure to act decisively on reform risks undermining the EU's credibility externally, including in the candidate countries.

However, merely focusing on Treaty changes and technicalities could be counterproductive. The EU must embrace a broader, more inclusive approach to reform, one that actively involves its citizens. Neglecting citizen participation risks eroding the legitimacy and momentum vital for successful reform efforts, stressed Dominik Hierlemann.

The EU leaders are urged to elevate their ambitions and confront concerns about the depth and duration of the reform process. To kickstart this transformative journey, the EU could start with defining a clear governance and institutional model. Equally, addressing anxieties about citizen involvement is paramount. Boldness and inclusivity are not just desirable but essential. By harnessing the engagement of its citizens, the EU can pave the way for a more resilient, democratic, and prosperous future.