MEPs debated the 2019 enlargement package with Commissioner Hahn
Foreign Affairs MEPs debated the 2019 enlargement package on Wednesday, following its first official presentation by Enlargement Negotiations Commissioner Johannes Hahn.
During the debate, Commissioner Hahn outlined the main achievements and remaining challenges for the current EU candidate countries and potential candidates, and reiterated the Commission’s recommendation to EU capitals to open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia without delay.
MEPs warmly welcomed the Commission’s approach and stressed the importance of not losing the EU enlargement momentum, and to give real incentives and support to countries who have delivered reforms on their path towards a possible EU membership. Members across political groups underlined that the enlargement policy should continue to be the priority for EU foreign policy during the next legislative term.
Both Commissioner Hahn and MEPs pointed to the Greece – North Macedonia settlement deal (Prespa agreement) as a clear example of positive developments in the region and a solution that could serve as an inspiration for pursuing good neighbourly relations in other areas of the Western Balkans.
Regarding Turkey, Parliament in March recommended suspending EU accession negotiations with the country, following years of severe political and democratic backsliding. MEPs remain seriously concerned about Turkey’s poor track record in upholding human rights, the rule of law, media freedom and the fight against corruption, as well as its all-powerful presidential system.
Crucial EU summit in June
The first debate on the 2019 enlargement package, adopted by the College of Commissioners earlier on Wednesday, came ahead of the crucial EU summit on 20-21 June, when EU heads of state and government are expected to make a decision on whether to kick off enlargement negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, and grant candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Foreign Affairs Committee in the next European Parliament, in place as of 2 July, will appoint rapporteurs for each enlargement country, who in turn will begin their in-depth examination of the country-specific reports in order to draft a resolution on each country.
Current EU candidate countries are Turkey, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Albania. Potential candidate countries are Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. At this point, accession negotiations have started with Turkey (2005), Montenegro (2012) and Serbia (2014).
The European Commission’s “Enlargement package”, which is adopted every year, is a set of detailed documents and reports explaining the EU executive’s policy on EU enlargement. The package also includes a communication on enlargement, which sets out the way forward and assesses the situation in both candidate and potential candidate countries. More information here.