The doors of the European Union to the Western Balkans are open, but a prerequisite for possible future accession is to implement “comprehensive and convincing” reforms in the six countries involved in many areas, the European Commission said in a statement on enlargement strategy.
“The Western Balkans can move forward through integration, but this requires strong political will, real reforms and final settlement of disputes with neighbors”, stressed Jean-Claude Juncker, chair of the Brussels body.
It was conceivable in the document to join Montenegro and Serbia in 2025, but it was stated that this is entirely dependent on the progress of the reform process.
In the region, accession negotiations with these two countries are currently underway, but the commission emphasized that “2025 is not the fixed date of accession nor the target date”.
As you have said, Montenegro must deliver results first and foremost in the area of rule of law and the fight against corruption and organized crime. In Serbia, it is essential to promote the rule of law and economic reforms and reconciliation, and the comprehensive, legally binding normalization of relations with Kosovo.
Albania and Macedonia have made significant progress on the way to EU accession and the committee is ready to make a recommendation on the fulfillment of the accession negotiations with them on the basis of the achieved conditions. With continued efforts and engagement, Bosnia and Herzegovina can also be a candidate and Kosovo has the opportunity to continue to move forward through integration through the implementation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement – they have stressed.
Depending on the results achieved, these countries can catch up or even precede each other, but the leaders of the region can not doubt their strategic orientation and commitment.
“We will not repeat the mistakes of the past,” said Johannes Hahn, EU Enlargement Commissioner for Bulgaria and Romania. He added that there is still a sense of “enlargement tiredness” in several EU countries, while European companies are increasing their presence in the Western Balkans.
“We are only taking new Member States when they have resolved their conflicts with their neighbors,” he said.
“The gate is open, and there is a clear path towards EU membership for the Western Balkans,” said Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who expressed hope that the Serbian-Kosovar relationship could still be resolved under this Commission mandate.
Brussels set out six flagship initiatives to strengthen cooperation with the states concerned, including in the areas of rule of law, security, migration, socio-economic development, transport, energy and digitalisation. In addition, it was also proposed to gradually raise the amount of so-called pre-accession aid by 2020.
Finally, the strategy underlined that the EU should also be prepared to accommodate new members, both institutionally and financially. The Council of Member State Governments should make better use of qualified majority voting, more effective mechanisms are needed in the case of systematic violations of the rule of law in a country of the EU, and special provisions are needed to ensure that future Member States can not hinder other Western Balkan Candidates – were written.
According to experts, the commission intends to make a new life in the enlargement process after the years of uninteresting by adopting the document, and to counterbalance Russian, Chinese, and Turkish influences in this area can be an important factor.
Andor Deli, a Fidesz MEP, welcomed the strategy and stressed that the migration crisis and other security policy challenges have pointed out that the EU needs the Western Balkans. “The Hungarian government and the Hungarian EPP delegation, like previous years, continue to support the states of the region,” he said.
“It is clear that we can not wait for enlargement until the major political crises within the European Union are resolved,” he said.
Tibor Szanyi, the Socialist MEP has expressed the view that while the accession of the states concerned is of particular importance to Hungary, “among the typical arguments of the opponents of enlargement, Viktor Orbán’s policy is in the first place to be the embodiment of the danger that after a country joins To pursue anti-EU policy, pursue unilateral benefits, deny European values and solidarity. ”
“Instead of blank support statements, Orban would rather have to do with the Western Balkan candidates mistrust when starting to pursue a constructive and credible EU policy that is respectful of democratic values in Europe. ”
Source: MTI / Image: pestisracok.hu /