A more credible, dynamic, predictable and political EU accession process - EC lays out its proposals
The European Commission yesterday put forward a proposal to drive forward the EU accession process, by making it more credible, with a stronger political steer, more dynamic and predictable.
Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, yesterday commented:
“The European Union enlargement to the Western Balkans is a top priority for the Commission. We are working on three tracks: Firstly, today we propose concrete steps on how to enhance the accession process. While we are strengthening and improving the process, the goal remains accession and full EU membership. Secondly, and in parallel, the Commission stands firmly by its recommendations to open accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania and will soon provide an update on the progress made by these two countries. Thirdly, in preparation of the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Zagreb in May, the Commission will come forward with an economic and investment development plan for the region.”
Enhancing the accession process – A credible EU perspective for the Western Balkans
A more credible process: The accession process needs to build on trust, mutual confidence and clear commitments by the European Union and the Western Balkans. Credibility should be reinforced through an even stronger focus on fundamental reforms, starting with the rule of law, the functioning of democratic institutions and public administration as well as the economy of the candidate countries. When partner countries meet the objective criteria, the Member States shall agree to move forward to the next stage of the process, respecting the merits-based approach.
A stronger political steer: The political nature of the accession process requires a stronger political steer and engagement at the highest levels. The Commission proposes to increase the opportunities for high level political and policy dialogue, through regular EU-Western Balkans summits and intensified ministerial contacts. Moreover, Member States should be involved more systematically in monitoring and reviewing the process. All bodies under Stabilisation and Association Agreement will focus much more on the key political issues and reforms, while Inter-Governmental Conferences will provide stronger political steering for the negotiations.
A more dynamic process: To inject further dynamism into the negotiating process, the Commission proposes to group the negotiating chapters in six thematic clusters: fundamentals; internal market; competitiveness and inclusive growth; green agenda and sustainable connectivity; resources, agriculture and cohesion; external relations. Negotiations on each cluster will be open as a whole – after fulfilling the opening benchmarks - rather than on an individual chapter basis. Negotiations on the fundamentals will be open first and closed last and the progress on these will determine the overall pace of negotiations. The timeframe between opening a cluster and closing the individual chapters should be limited, preferably within a year fully dependant on the progress of the reforms.
A more predictable process: The Commission will provide greater clarity on what the EU expects of enlargement countries at the different stages of the process. It will make clearer what the positive consequences progress on reforms can bring, and what will the negative consequences will be when there is no progress.
To encourage demanding reforms, the Commission will better define the conditions set for candidates to progress and will provide clear and tangible incentives of direct interest to citizens. Incentives could include accelerated integration and “phasing-in” to individual EU policies, the EU market and EU programmes - while ensuring a level playing field - as well as increased funding and investments. The more candidates advance in their reforms, the more they will advance in the process. Equally, the Commission proposes more decisive measures proportionally sanctioning any serious or prolonged stagnation or backsliding in reform implementation and meeting the requirements of accession process. Negotiations could be put on hold in certain areas, or in the most serious cases, suspended overall, and already closed chapters could be re-opened; benefits of closer integration, like access to EU programmes, could be paused or withdrawn, and the scope and intensity of EU funding could be adjusted downward.
Latest News from
Human rights: EU adopts conclusions on EU priorities at UN Human Rights Fora in 202018/02/2020 13:25:00
On the occasion of the year marking the 75th anniversary of the entry into force of the UN Charter, the Council conclusions reaffirm EU's commitment to the rule-based international order – human rights protection being an important part of it.
Consultation on Air Quality - Executive Summary14/02/2020 12:20:00
The Secretariat of the Commission for Environment, Climate Change and Energy (ENVE) of the CoR is in the process of informing other EU institutional and non institutional actors about the Implementation Report of the consultation on Air Quality, whose Executive Summary is already available here.
Tipperary councillor to lead Irish delegation in EU assembly14/02/2020 11:20:00
Michael Murphy of Tipperary County Council will lead the national delegation of Ireland to the European Committee of the Regions, whose members met on 11-13 February for the first time in their new five-year mandate. He will also lead its economic-policy commission.
Artificial intelligence: MEPs want to ensure a fair and safe use for consumers13/02/2020 12:25:00
Parliament calls for a strong set of rights to protect consumers in the context of artificial intelligence and automated decision-making, in a resolution approved on Wednesday.
EU-UK future relations: “level playing field” crucial to ensure fair competition13/02/2020 08:20:00
Parliament calls for a level playing field to be guaranteed through robust commitments, and “dynamic alignment” of EU-UK rules.
Stop illegal trade in cats and dogs, says European Parliament12/02/2020 16:51:00
To protect animal welfare, pet owners and public health, MEPs call for an EU Action Plan to end illegal trade in companion animals.
More than money: the long-term EU budget is a tool for Europe’s future12/02/2020 15:51:00
MEPs underlined that Parliament will only give its consent to a budget that meets the European Union’s ambitions, in a debate on EU funding for 2021-2027.
Parliament objects to lead in PVC to protect public health and the environment12/02/2020 14:51:00
MEPs have vetoed a Commission proposal that would have allowed some lead in recycled PVC.
Syria, Africa, Venezuela and US Middle East plan to be debated12/02/2020 13:25:00
MEPs will debate the US’ recently presented Middle East plan, the new EU-Africa strategy and the current security situation in Syria, on Tuesday afternoon.