European Commission Presents Enlargement Package
On November 9, the Commission adopted its 2010 Enlargement package. It comprised a Strategy paper, the Opinions on the membership applications by Montenegro and Albania and seven Progress Reports on the potential candidate countries and on the candidate countries.
- Posted on: 15.11.2010
"Today, the Enlargement package provides you with an overview of the progress made by nine countries. Nine countries who not only share our values, but who wish to actively promote them by joining the European Union. We should be proud of that fact. It is in our own interest to provide them with a framework to support their transformative efforts to reach our political and economic standards. Indeed, enlargement is the best policy to project our values into this region", European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle said in his speach presenting the Enlargement package.
Štefan Füle's comments on each individual country*
"First Albania and Montenegro, and our Opinions
In its Opinions adopted today the Commission recommends "that accession negotiations should be opened with Montenegro and Albania once these countries have achieved the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria set out by the 1993 Copenhagen European Council. In particular, Montenegro and Albania need to meet the specific key priorities set out in each Opinion.
For Albania the Opinion concluded that "negotiations for accession to the European Union should be opened once the country has achieved the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria, and in particular the Copenhagen political criteria requiring the stability of institutions guaranteeing notably democracy and the rule of law." We urge Albania to make further efforts to build on the progress to date.
For Montenegro the Commission considers that "negotiations for accession to the European Union should be opened once the country has achieved the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria and in particular the Copenhagen political criteria requiring the stability of institutions guaranteeing notably the rule of law." The Commission recommends "that the Council grants the status of candidate country to Montenegro."
"The Commission's progress report on both countries in the 2011 enlargement package will focus in particular on the implementation of the key priorities which need to be addressed with a view to the opening of accession negotiations."
Let me now turn to current Candidate Countries:
With Croatia, accession negotiations have reached the final phase. "The Commission considers that negotiations should be concluded once Croatia has met outstanding closing benchmarks, in particular in the field of judiciary and fundamental rights, including fight against corruption, thus removing the need for the EU to consider a cooperation and verification mechanism after accession." The Commission will assess the progress in the relevant chapter in the first quarter of 2011.
As far as former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is concerned, "it continues to sufficiently fulfil the political criteria. … The Commission reiterates its recommendation that negotiations for accession to the European Union should be opened." However, an unanimous decision of Member States is required for the negotiations to start. A "negotiated and mutually accepted solution to the name issue under the auspices of the UN is essential."
And now, our three potential candidates:
Serbia. Two weeks ago, the Council invited the Commission to submit its Opinion on Serbia. Commission has started to fulfil this task and intends to present its Opinion in the second part of 2011. "Serbia is well placed to fulfil the requirements under Stabilisation and Association Agreement … and … has continued its cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia." This cooperation remains "an essential condition for membership of the EU". While the Commission has concluded that "Serbia has taken important steps towards reconciliation in the region", we also urge "Serbia to demonstrate a more constructive attitude towards Kosovo's participation in regional trade and cooperation."
Bosnia and Herzegovina. Following the October general elections, "Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to form a government committed to the country's EU future and to speed up relevant reforms." In particular Bosnia and Herzegovina needs "to align its Constitution with the European Convention of Human Rights and to improve functioning of its institutions. The country must be in a position to adopt, implement and enforce the laws and rules of the EU. Regarding international obligations, making progress towards meeting the objectives and conditions which have been set for the closure of the Office of the High Representative remains essential."
And finally, Kosovo – "the decentralisation process in Kosovo has advanced significantly and cooperation with EULEX has increased. However, major (political) challenges remain. The authorities need to ensure a constructive approach towards Kosovo participation in regional cooperation fora." Subject to continued implementation of Action Plan on reintegration of returnees, "Commission is committed to launch a visa liberalisation dialogue shortly. The commission is (also) assisting Kosovo to put into place the conditions needed for a possible trade agreement with the EU. … The Commission will propose the opening to Kosovo's participation in relevant Union programmes, such as Europe for Citizens and Culture."
* quoted from the EC press release.
Key findings of the progress reports
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
- Kosovo (under UNSCR)
Source and further information: RAPID Press Release of November 9, 2010.
- Posted on: 15.11.2010
- Created by: Katarina Rohsmann
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