BERLIN – President-elect of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen stated today that that it is very significant to link the Western Balkans as closely as possible to the EU.
According to Politico, von der Leyen stated that granting Albania and North Macedonia a route to EU accession is “of great strategic importance” for the bloc.
The statement was made following the meeting with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin today.
President-elect, who is expected to begin her tenure on 1 December, said that Skopje and Tirana have made incredible efforts to reach the point EU has asked them to reach, adding that she will look for alternative means to strengthen ties with the countries.
“As long as it is not possible to actually open the accession talks … I will put all my energy into developing joint projects that will increasingly bind these countries to us through close cooperation,” she said, adding: “If we don’t do that, others will fall into a vacuum, and we do not want that to happen”, Politico reports.
The beginning of the tenure of von der Leyen’s Commission has been delayed following the rejection of three of her Commissioners-designate. Hearing of the new Commissioner-designate for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Várhelyi, nominated by the Government of Hungary, will take place on 14 November.