European Western Balkans

Borrell: Ukraine and the Western Balkans have to become members of the EU

Josep Borrell at Gymnich 2023; Photo: X / @JosepBorrellF

TOLEDO – In the press remarks following the Informal Foreign Affairs Council (Gymnich) held in Toledo, Spain, High Representative of the Union Josep Borrell announced an upcoming Ministerial meeting together with the Western Balkans ministers, as well as high-level Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue on 14 September. He also supported the EU enlargement policy, stating that both Ukraine and the Western Balkans have to become members of the EU.

Before turning his attention to the Western Balkans, Borrell commented on the war in Ukraine and the situation in Africa, Niger in particular, which were the main topics of yesterday’s meeting. He then proceeded to make two announcements regarding the Western Balkans.

“The Spanish Presidency is proposing – and I think it is a good proposal – to hold a Ministerial meeting together with the Western Balkans ministers. We will do it at the end of next month, together with the Spanish Presidency and following other events related with the [Western] Balkans, like the Berlin Process. I think that it is very important that the Ministers, under the Spanish Presidency, take stock of what is happening in the [Western] Balkans”, the High Representative announced.

He added that, on 14 September, he would organise a new meeting of the High-Level Dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia as facilitator of this Dialogue to look for solutions.

“The issue of enlargement has been floating over our discussions. Ukraine has to become a member of the European Union. The Western Balkans also. Quickly”, Borrell said.

He assessed that the war in Ukraine has had a collateral effect that is to speed up the enlargement process, which is certainly a merit-based process.

“A state will become a member when it fulfills all the conditions. But at the same time, I think it is good to have a political target – a horizon – in order to give a political impetus to the process. And also, for us – because yes, we too have to be prepared for an enlargement that could add 10 more members to the European Union”, the High Representative said.

So, it is more for them to be prepared, in particular Ukraine, that will need a lot of support, he added.

“But it is also, for the European Union, in a horizon that at the same time represents the fulfillment of the conditions – otherwise, it will not happen – but proposing a horizon, a kind of ‘time target’, could mobilise our energies and the energies of the candidate countries”, Borrell concluded.

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