Brussels, May 31: The European Commission (EC) has assessed the implementation of reforms in the Western Balkan partners and Turkey - the latest developments after European elections.
Confirming that a credible enlargement policy is a geostrategic investment in peace, stability, security and economic growth in the whole of Europe, the Commission on Wednesday adopted its annual assessment of the implementation of reforms in the Western Balkan partners and Turkey, together with recommendations on the next steps for those countries.
A firm and credible EU perspective for the Western Balkans remains essential to drive transformation, foster reconciliation, export stability to the region and promote EU values, norms and standards.
The Commission's Western Balkans Strategy of February 2018 generated a renewed engagement by the EU and its Member States and created new momentum across the region. One year on, the partner countries have made concrete progress and demonstrated commitment to the European perspective, even if the overall uptake of reforms varies.
Albania and North Macedonia have embraced the opportunity and delivered on reforms, in particular in the areas identified as crucial by the Council in June 2018. In light of the significant progress achieved and the relevant conditions being met, the Commission recommended today that the Council now opens accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia.
The Commission also issued today its Opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina's application for membership of the European Union, together with an analytical report that reviews, for the first time, the situation in the country against all standards applicable to EU Member States.
The Commission considers that negotiations for accession should be opened once Bosnia and Herzegovina has achieved the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria. Bosnia and Herzegovina will need to fundamentally improve its legislative and institutional framework to ensure it meets a number of detailed priorities in the field of democracy, rule of law, fundamental rights and public administration reform.
Turkey is a key partner for the EU and a candidate country. Dialogue and cooperation, including at highest level, in essential areas of joint interest have continued, including through effective cooperation on migration and support to refugees. However, Turkey has continued to move further away from the European Union, with serious backsliding in the areas of the rule of law and fundamental rights.
In June 2018 the Council noted unanimously that Turkey's accession negotiations have therefore effectively come to a standstill and no further chapters can be considered for opening or closing. The underlying facts leading to this assessment still hold.
It is now for the Council to consider the recommendations of the Commission and take decisions on the steps ahead.
President Juncker debriefed the College of Commissioners on the latest developments as they met for the first time after the EU elections. This included a debrief of last night’s informal dinner of the members of the European Council.
The economic Commissioners Valdis Dombrovskis and Pierre Moscovici gave their colleagues a short introduction of the contents of the European Semester Spring Package which will be adopted by the Commission next week. (UNI)