On 5 February, representatives and party leaders of ALDE’s Western Balkan member parties took part in a roundtable chaired by ALDE Vice-President Ilhan Kyuchyuk to discuss with European Commission Vice-President Věra Jourová and Commissioner Didier Reynders as well as MEPs from the Renew Europe Group. The new accession process, rule of law, economic development and security were among the discussed topics.
The Western Balkan officials welcomed the latest developments, following the decision in October 2019 to keep the talks with Albania and North Macedonia on hold, and remarked that the enlargement of the European Union is a two-way street: countries need to implement the Copenhagen criteria (rule of law, functioning free market economy, democratic governance and human rights and accepting the obligations and intent of the EU) in order to join, but the EU also “has her obligations too”.
The message by these officials was for the EU act in a more predictable, credible and consistent manner, as only little improvement has been achieved in the last years.
Earlier that day, the European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Oliver Várhelyi, presented his new enlargement strategy that focuses on four principles: credibility, increased dynamism, predictability and stronger political steer.
At the roundtable, Várhelyi stated that the procedure of Bosnia-Herzegovina will be opened this year and that an economic development plan for the entire region will be implemented to build a strong and resilient market economy.
Věra Jourová and Didier Reynders highlighted the needs to be tough on principles despite the weaknesses in the region as well as to cherish core values such as the independence of the judiciary.
“The rule of law is so dear to us, but highly uncomfortable for dictators,” Jourová stated.
Roundtable participants included Renew Europe leader Dacian Cioloș and MEPs Sophie in’t Veld, Klemen Grošelj, Irena Joveva and Bernard Guetta as well as Jovan Jovanovic (National Assembly of Serbia), Milica Delevic (ECFR Council Member), Roman Jakič (LIBSEEN) and Agon Maliqi (Sbunker, Kosovo).