European Western Balkans

Spanish Foreign Minister in the EP: We are in favour of enlargement, it is a merit-based process

José Manuel Albares; Photo: Spanish Presidency of the Council

BRUSSELS – Foreign Minister of Spain José Manuel Albares stated yesterday that his country, which currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU, supports enlargement and is looking forward to the European Commission reports which will be released on 8 November and indicate the path forward.

Minister Albares participated in the session of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) on Tuesday, where he discussed the external policy priorities of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

In addition to topics such as the war in Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war, the minister also touched upon the issue of EU enlargement during the discussion with the Members of the European Parliament.

“We are expecting an enlargement package on 8 November, there will be a summit as well, and, in addition to the efforts we are all familiar with, the gap with the European Union should not be bigger because the EU continues growing. We need to help the candidates to integrate more, and Spain is in favor of enlargement”, Alberas said.

He added that enlargement is a merit-based process and therefore, the enlargement package and the report of the European Commission is something Spain is looking forward to and it will indicate the path to take.

Alberas was asked more detailed questions on enlargement and the situation in the Western Balkans, but did not respond to them. In his discussion with MEPs, he was asked dozens of questions on international issues and only responded to some of them.

MEP Tonino Picula (S&D), EP Rapporteur for Montenegro and Chairman of the working group for the Western Balkans, asked Alberas what steps the EU Presidency has taken to deescalate tensions between Serbia and Kosovo on 24 September and whether there is a plan to put in place negative measures on Serbia mirroring those on Kosovo, as also proposed by the European Parliament last week.

Picula also asked whether the Presidency has been involved in facilitating the constitutional amendments in North Macedonia.

Vladimír Bilčík (EPP), EP Rapporteur for Serbia, asked the minister what the EU is specifically ready to do “to stop the pro-Russian forces that may enter the new government of Montenegro”. He also asked whether Spain and its Presidency are going to pay attention so that there are free and fair elections in Serbia in December.

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