BRUSSELS – The progress reports of the six countries in the Western Balkans, adopted today by the European Commission, show the major challenges when it comes to the rule of law. Judicial systems are not independent enough and serious efforts are needed in combating corruption and organised crime.
ALDE Group leader, Guy Verhofstadt, said Western Balkans need to keep their European path:
“The EU must remain firmly committed to a European future for the Western Balkans. The Commission and all Member States must continue to support the region on its path of reforms, in further efforts to strengthen the rule of law and the democratic institutions.”
ALDE MEP, Ivo Vajgl (DeSUS, Slovenia), European Parliament’s rapporteur on Macedonia, added:
“As a result of the successful mediation by the Commission and the European Parliament, the severe political crisis in Macedonia has been overcome and political dialogue has resumed within its institutions.
The Commission´s decision to make the recommendation to open accession negotiations conditional on the full implementation of the Pržino Agreement, will be a strong incentive for the country to start delivering on urgent reforms.”
“Serbia is making decisive steps towards EU membership and deserves our full support.”
“More effort is still needed to guarantee the respect of fundamental European values such as freedom of expression and the protection of minorities and LGBTI rights.”
ALDE rapporteur on Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, Jozo Radoš (HNS, Croatia), commented:
“Firstly, tangible results on the implementation of the Reform Agenda are needed in case of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The establishment of the effective coordination mechanism is another big challenge. The failure to adopt rules of procedure on the first SAPC meeting is not a good sign.”
“In the EU enlargement negotiation process, Montenegro is by far the most successful country. However, their invitation to join NATO is of utmost importance for both Montenegro and the entire region.”
ALDE rapporteur on Kosovo, Hilde Vautmans (Open VLD, Belgium), applauds Kosovo’s efforts to come to a normal relationship with Serbia:
“It surely has created a momentum. But with a staggering 61% youth unemployment, Kosovo needs to tackle the many challenges heads-on and offer perspectives to future generations. The Commission mentions “early stages of reforms” in many fields. Lots of steps need to be taken in the coming months, but the sense of direction is positively forward.”
ALDE MEP, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, (Bulgaria, Movement for Rights and Freedoms), shadow rapporteur on Albania said:
“The enlargement process of the Western Balkans is not because of their political elites, not even because of their prime ministers, but because of the civil societies of those young democracies. Over the past year, Albania made significant progress and it is closer to the opening of accession negotiations. The EU should continue to support the country in the implementation of key reforms such as the rule of law and fight against corruption, in order to confirm its European path.”
This year, the European Commission uses a new method to assess the countries. Progress is measured according to categories ranging from “early stage” over “some level of preparation” and “moderately prepared” to “good preparation” and, finally, “advanced stage of preparation”.