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Promoting freedom, democracy, and prosperity on our continent – the S&Ds welcome the new EU enlargement momentum

Date

08 Nov 2023

Sections

Global Europe

The Socialists and Democrats, who have been vocal advocates of a more ambitious EU enlargement policy, support the recommendations to start the accession talks with Ukraine, Moldova, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, to grant candidate status to Georgia, as well as to give new positive prospects to all other Western Balkan countries aspiring to join the European Union. We expect these to be confirmed by EU leaders in December.

Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine threatens peace and security for the entire European continent in an unprecedented manner. But Europe is stronger together. Therefore, the S&Ds call for a pro-active enlargement process. It must, however, be properly conducted on the basis of merit. 

The S&Ds urge the candidate countries to ambitiously progress on the necessary reforms to underline their readiness to take on the obligations of EU membership as soon as possible. For the S&Ds, it is clear that the enlargement process must also go hand in hand with EU internal reforms to make EU institutions and decision-making ready for an enlarged Union of more than 30 member states.

Pedro Marques, S&D vice-president responsible for foreign affairs, said:

“Today we join the European Commission’s recommendation, and call on the member states to take the historic decision and open the accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova. We must show through actions, not just words, that we truly support them. Ukraine’s EU accession and reconstruction process must be closely intertwined and we must make sure that recovery and reconstruction fully respects the principles of democratic participation, social fairness, inclusion, and sustainability.

“Peace, cooperation and solidarity, democracy, and rule of law are at the heart of the European integration project and constitute the foundations of the European Union. There can be no exemptions from that. As progressives, we also insist that the enlargement process must respect the needs of the people and bring concrete benefits and better opportunities, in particular for the young.

“Enlargement must once again become an EU geopolitical strategic policy, an engine for democracy, peace, freedom and prosperity on our European continent. And to all who fear that the EU is not capable of incorporating more members, I say that it is exactly the enlargement process that will encourage and accelerate the long-awaited and desperately needed EU internal reforms to improve the decision-making.”

Tonino Picula, S&D coordinator in the foreign affairs committee and European Parliament rapporteur on the New Enlargement Strategy, said:

“While fully supporting clear steps regarding the enlargement process in the EU’s Eastern neighbourhood, we must not forget about the countries in the Western Balkans. Two decades ago, we promised them that they would one day join our European family. After last year's positive news on opening accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania, it is necessary to keep the pro-European flame alive in the entire region. To this end, in December, we expect EU leaders to agree on starting the accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

“The European Commission is offering the region a growth plan linked to clear reform progress and thus better economic prospects, but money alone will not solve the problems. To ensure a better, European future for the region, the EU must stop its appeasement politics towards the regional strongmen. At the same time, all the Western Balkan countries must invest all their political capital in genuine reconciliation and good neighbourly relations. As the biggest country in the region, Serbia, under the leadership of its president Aleksandar Vučić, obviously bears a particular responsibility for stability and peace in the Western Balkans. 

“The recent terrorist attack against Kosovo police officers, carried out by Serbian paramilitaries, stands out as a stark reminder that the peace in this region remains fragile. This calls for serious political consequences, including the freezing of pre-accession funding intended for Serbia if the investigations reveal the direct involvement of the Serbian state. Moreover, there must be no room for separatist rhetoric and actions practised in Republika Srpska by Milorad Dodik.

“Finally, as the reports point out, Kosovo and Serbia have not yet implemented the agreements reached under the EU-facilitated Dialogue, which we very much regret. We call on both parties to start the implementation without further delay or preconditions. As we have stated at many occasions, the only solution is the normalisation of relations through compromise.”

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