The European Parliament adopted a resolution on 23 November concerning its new strategy for European Union enlargement, with 502 votes in favor, 75 against, and 61 abstentions. As part of the resolution, MEPs called on the EU to “overcome the status quo and re-energize the enlargement process both among member states and in applicant countries.”
Chief among the recommendations was the following:
- No alternatives should replace enlargement;
- Reform the accession decision-making process and accept new members by qualified majority instead of unanimity
- Accession negotiations should be concluded by 2030.
The MEPs argued that “in light of the growing Russian threat to European peace and stability, an enhanced enlargement policy remains the strongest geopolitical tool at the EU’s disposal.”
The MEPs contended that the EU must reform its accession decision-making process and institute a qualified majority in order to be seen as a “more credible and efficient global player.” Significantly, a qualified majority would mean that only 55% of member states, or 15 out of the 27 nations, would have to vote in favor of approving a nation’s accession to the EU.
In that context, they called on member states to fulfill the EU’s commitment towards the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries, and “ensure no alternatives are offered to candidate countries in place of full EU membership.”
At the same time, the MEPs called for “democratic reform and the rule of law” to be prioritized within the enlargement process, and for improved monitoring, reporting, assessment, and conditionality to be ensured.
The resolution also urged the EU to make “EU funding and its tangible results more visible in enlargement countries,” and for it to prevent “third-party interference in the political, electoral, and other democratic processes of these countries.”
In that vein, it called for “any stagnation or backtracking in the EU-related reform process” to be sanctioned in “real-time” while also highlighting that those candidate countries that “make sustainable progress” should be rewarded.
The resolution also made specific recommendations regarding countries at different stages on the EU path. Regarding Serbia, it emphasized that accession negotiations should “advance only if the country supports EU sanctions against Russia and makes significant progress on EU-related reforms.”
As regards Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, the resolution welcomed the European Council’s “exceptionally swift decision” on their membership applications and urged the trio to “advance with substantial reforms.”
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Finally, the European Parliament welcomed the conditional recommendation for granting candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina, while calling on the European Council to follow up on the recommendation “as soon as possible.”
Read the full text of the resolution here.
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