Picula new Rapporteur for Recommendations on WB ahead of Zagreb Summit

Tonino Picula; Photo: European Union

STRASBOURG – Member of European Parliament Tonino Picula has been appointed to the position of European Parliament Rapporteur for Recommendations on the Western Balkans ahead of the May 2020 Summit in Zagreb. His role will be to draft Parliament’s recommendations to the Council and the Commission with a view to opening accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania and giving new impetus to the enlargement process.

“I am extremely honored to have the new role of the Rapporteur for the Western Balkans recommendations ahead of the upcoming summit in Zagreb. In cooperation with all Western Balkan countries and EU institutions, I will offer a set of concrete recommendations that will allow the removal of obstacles and the final opening of negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania already in Zagreb. Also, the aim is to give new impetus to the enlargement process in this mandate of the EU institutions, “Tonino Picula, a Croatian MEP, said today.

“Making a mistake, French President Emmanuel Macron achieved something he had not planned by blocking the opening of negotiations for North Macedonia and Albania – he returned the issue of enlargement to the focus of the debate at European level. This was best seen in today’s speech by the new President von der Leyen, who  made it clear that the EU door remains open and highlighted the topic immediately at the beginning of her speech,” Picula said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated today that the Western Balkans and the EU share a common history, culture, but also a common destiny, and that the EU’s door to membership remains open. Von der Leyen highlighted this issue at the beginning of her address, even before the issue of transatlantic relations, the Green New Deal, gender equality and digitization. This is an encouraging message to the countries of the Western Balkans and an incentive to continue the reforms that have begun, as they have the support of Brussels, that is, the European Parliament and the European Commission.

However, finding consensus in the Council remains a challenge and is one of the main topics that Picula will address in this report, which has the additional objective of analyzing and responding to new proposals for reform of enlargement policy.

“Debates on reform must not stop the process. Countries should be judged individually, based on individual merit and achievement. Montenegro, for example, is at the forefront of this process, and I expect that the results achieved and the efforts made will be acknowledged and accession negotiations closed during this term”, Picula concluded.

Croatian MEP is the Rapporteur of the European Parliament for the IPA III pre-accession assistance program, worth EUR 14.5 billion, which is negotiating with the Council and the Commission. In addition, he is the Permanent Rapporteur of the European Parliament for Montenegro. Adoption of the report is expected in March next year, ahead of the Zagreb summit in early May.