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S&Ds call for progressive and forward-looking EU enlargement policy


03 May 2016


Regional Policy

Today, the S&D Group together with the ALDE Group and the Greens/EFA Group organised a conference on the Western Balkans countries entitled "Albania, Montenegro and Serbia - good students in EU integration, true or false?"

Besides members of Parliament and representatives of NGOs from each country, the EU Commission was also represented by Christian Danielsson, the Director General for DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR), who was one of the speakers.

When commenting on the conference, Knut Fleckenstein, S&D vice-president and EP Rapporteur on Albania, said:
"The S&D Group has always been a staunch supporter of an active EU enlargement policy. In the last years and despite its own difficulties, the EU continued to be a pole of attraction.
"In order to maintain the effectiveness of the reform process and not to put at risk the success of the democratic and economic consolidation of the Western Balkans, we call today - together with other pro-enlargement political groups - on the European Commission to maintain an active and ambitious EU enlargement policy."

Note to the editors:
The three countries – Albania, Montenegro and Serbia - are most prominent in the EU accession process of the Western Balkans. While Montenegro and Serbia are currently negotiating their EU membership, Albania is expecting the opening of accession talks. Rule of law-related reforms, covered by negotiating chapters 23 and 24, are and must be in the political focus in all three countries. Nevertheless, progress has been uneven.
Important reform challenges are still lying ahead: the reform of the judiciary, freedom of media, impunity in the fight against systemic corruption and the reform of public administration. Furthermore, there should not be compromises at the expense of fundamental rights. That is why the European Union needs to be more committed to the enlargement process, to deliver on promises without discriminating and steer the reform drive pro-actively.