Western Balkans: Commitment is the shortest way towards enlargement

2018. 10. 16.

Press release of MEP Lívia Járóka

MEP Lívia Járóka, Vice-President of the European Parliament responsible for the Western Balkans region participated at the Inter-parliamentary Conference on Transforming the Western Balkans region organised in Sofia, Bulgaria today. The aim of the conference was to discuss with MEPs and members of the Pre-Accession Countries’ Parliaments what perspective the parliaments should take on the future of EU accession process.

MEP Lívia Járóka highlighted that the Western Balkans region is exceptionally important for the EU which has made numerous commitments at the highest political level in the recent months, even envisaging the enlargement of the EU in the near future. On the other hand, she underlined, commitment toward enlargement needs to be supported from both sides. The Western Balkan countries must do their part too. According to the Commission’s latest communication and country reports, there is progress, albeit slow. What we see daily in the Western Balkans is that this process is not happening as fast as we would like. Unfortunately, the problems caused by the war are still there.

The challenge lies in speeding up the enlargement process, but without compromising the quality of reforms. Accession is strictly linked to the conditionality of tangible reforms, above all concerning chapters 23 and 24, namely rule of law, good governance, protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. Furthermore, the region needs to focus also on strengthening the infrastructure, local economies, creating jobs and combating poverty with targeted anti-poverty measures.

The EPP politician stated that the opinion of the EU citizens needs to be convinced that accepting Western Balkan countries in the Union is something positive, an asset not a source of problems. On the other hand, she emphasised, there is a growing impatience in the Western Balkans to join the EU. It is not the date, but the process that matters. The years of reform and negotiation are not just a waiting time; they are an opportunity for in-depth transformation of the political culture of the state and the society as a whole. Reforms, which are part of the EU accession process, are not just criteria for accession but they are inevitable for the development of our societies. Otherwise disillusion will follow and contradictions appear later in the form of a backlash against the EU integration itself – MEP Lívia Járóka closed her speech.