1. Western Plan for Eastern countries
BSSB.BE europeanwesternbalkans 19.03.2018
Balkans Danube Ex-USSR
*Strategy for the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe: EU sets out new flagship initiatives, weather they work?
As President Juncker announced in his 2017 State of the Union address, the Commission adopted today a strategy for ‘A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans’, confirming the European future of the region as a geostrategic investment in a stable, strong and united Europe based on common values.
It spells out the priorities and areas of joint reinforced cooperation, addressing the specific challenges the Western Balkans face, in particular the need for fundamental reforms and good neighbourly relations. A credible enlargement perspective requires sustained efforts and irreversible reforms. Progress along the European path is an objective and merit-based process which depends on the concrete results achieved by each individual country.
- Today, the European Commission announced six flagship initiatives– specific actions that the EU will take over the next years to support the transformation efforts of the Western Balkans in areas of mutual interest.
- These range from initiatives to strengthen the rule of law, reinforced cooperation on security and migration through joint investigating teams and the European Border and coast guard, expanding the EU Energy Union to the Western Balkans or lowering roaming charges and rolling out broadband in the region.
- The Strategy also underlines the need for the EU to be prepared to welcome new members once they have met the criteria.
The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker stated: ”Investing in the stability and prosperity of the Western Balkans means investing in the security and future of our Union. Although there will be no further enlargements under this mandate, today the European Commission is charting the European path ahead for the Western Balkans.
With strong political will, real and sustained reforms, and definitive solutions to disputes with neighbours, the Western Balkans can move forward on their respective European paths. Whether this is achieved will depend on their objective merits.
The European Commission will be rigorous but it will also be fair. I will travel to each of the countries of the Western Balkans at the end of this month with a clear message: keep reforming and we will keep supporting your European future.”
High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini commented:“The Western Balkans are part of Europe: we share the same history, the same geography, the same cultural heritage and the same opportunities and challenges today and in the future. We have a common interest in working more and more closely together to guarantee to our people economic and social development, and security.
This strategy shows the path that we have ahead of us: for all our six partners to overcome once and for all the past, for all of us together to make the process of the Western Balkans towards the European Union irreversible and keep reuniting the Continent.
This Strategy gives all of us a shared, clear, unequivocal, credible and concrete perspective for each and every one of our six partners’ EU integration. The next months will be not only intense but also crucial to make sure that this historic and unique opportunity is seized.”
Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn stressed: “Today we confirm that the door of our Union is open for the Western Balkans which is already an enclave surrounded by the EU, and that our offer is sincere.
With the new approach, underpinned by concrete measures, we are strengthening the enlargement process which requires credible efforts and reforms in return in particular to strengthen the rule of law. We have to work for the benefit of the citizens.”
Focus on convincing reforms and reconciliation
In order to meet the EU membership criteriaand in their own interest, the Western Balkans need to implement comprehensive reforms in crucial areas. The rule of law, fundamental rights and governancemust be strengthened significantly.
Judicial reforms, the fight against corruption and organised crime, and public administration reform need to deliver real results and the functioning of democratic institutions need to be seriously enhanced.
Economic reforms must be pursued with vigour so that structural weaknesses, low competitiveness and high unemployment rates are addressed.
All countries mustunequivocally commit, in both word and deed, to overcome the legacy of the past, by achieving reconciliation and solving open issues, in particular border disputes, well before accession to the European Union.There needs to be a comprehensive, legally-binding normalisation agreement between Serbia and Kosovo so that they can advance on their respective European paths.
- The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at: com