Where will Europe’s borders end? Last month, EU leaders convened in Granada, Spain, to discuss a question that has captivated Eurocrats, think tanks and journalists throughout the bloc since the start of the war in Ukraine.

While the European Union already granted Ukraine candidate status in June 2022, the European Council is expected to vote on beginning formal accession talks on Dec. 15. But the debate in Spain showed that the question is no longer really about Ukraine and the western Balkans; it is now an existential question with far-reaching implications for the EU and its role in a fast-changing global environment.

The EU appears to be moving toward radical reinvention, a “refoundation” built on three pillars, each of which is the subject of fierce debate. It is looking for a grand bargain between geopolitical imperatives and liberal values.