The Parliamentary Group of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament welcomed today the proposed new methodology of the accession negotiation, tpresented by the Commissioner for European Neighborhood and Enlargement, Oliver Várhelyi in the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament.
As co-ordinator of S&D for foreign policy, rapporteur for recommendations on the Western Balkans and standing rapporteur for Montenegro, Croatian MEP Tonino Picula commented the new methodology.
"We welcome the European Commission's attempt to address specific concerns raised by some skeptical Member States in the European Council with concrete proposals. We have always insisted that EU enlargement in the Western Balkans is a winning combination for both sides as an investment in peace, democracy and prosperity across Europe. If we want our Union to be geopolitically influential, it is clear that we must first and foremost focus on our closest neighborhood", he said.
"We hope that the methodology presented will bring new momentum to the enlargement process, as well as enable us to re-establish credibility in the region, which we lost with the recent Council decision not to open negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. We must establish clear criteria and invariable indicators of progress throughout the process, and make decisions as soon as those criteria are met. We also welcome the greater contribution of countries with experience and expertise in the negotiation process. Finally, we invite the countries of the Western Balkans to join us at the Conference on the Future of Europe, in order to begin working on a common future", Picula concluded.
When Picula asked about whether the new methodology would also apply to Serbia and Montenegro, and the possibility of closing entire clusters of topics over the course of one year and what this would mean for the total duration of the talks, Várhelyi replied that the two countries did not have to participate in the new methodology because negotiations have been opened earlier. Within the S&D group, they supported the view that particular emphasis should be placed on the rule of law throughout the negotiation process, warning that the new methodology should not be used as a political argument to further delay enlargement, in which we are already witnessing negotiations that last for years or even decades. S&D members reiterated their call to Member States to open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia as soon as possible and hopefully already in March.