The current summit of EU foreign ministers was a new possibility to examine the European perspectives of the Western Balkans.
The president of the meeting, Tytti Tuppurainen (Finnish Foreign Minister), said that this summit was only the first step in a process that will continue next spring, when EU leaders will meet again.
"No conclusions were reached in this meeting, but the idea is to send a clear signal concerning the European perspective of the Western Balkans. We all support this perspective."- said Tuppurainen.
The objective is to lay the foundations for an effective enlargement policy at the Zagreb summit scheduled for May 2020 and where EU and Western Balkan leaders will meet.
The secretary of state for foreign affairs of France, Amélie de Montchalin, spoke of a more effective, concrete and credible enlargement process.
"We are now seeing that the process does not work for a number of reasons: it is taking too long, it is disappointing, it develops according to pre-established automatisms and does not attract the interest of citizens."- said the French secretary for foreign affairs.
De Montchalin also specified that the new methodology provides for strict conditions, financial support and the possibility for the EU to backtrack in the accession process of the candidate countries.
"It is time to abandon the big stories and implement the essential changes. Citizens of the Western Balkans expect a lot from the EU."- continued de Montchalin.
The other proposals
The French proposal is not the only one: Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Slovakia and Poland, through a letter sent to the European Commission, have communicated that they too are committed to improving the methodology of EU enlargement, on condition that at the same time the process of integration in the Western Balkans continues.
The Austrian Foreign Minister, Alexander Schallenberg, said after the Brussels meeting that the proposal was also accepted by other countries:
"We are ready for a constructive and positive commitment that will lead to the improvement of the enlargement process. There is room for improvement, but these must not be conditions for Albania and Northern Macedonia. Only the European Commission can make changes because it has a leading role in the process."- underlined Schallenberg.
In Brussels they expect the new Commission to take office in December to then work on improving the enlargement methodology and drafting new proposals that can support reforms in EU countries. The proposal for enlargement will be drawn up by January 2020.
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