Resolution submitted by: Political Committee 3, External Affairs and Global Governance.
Historically, the European Union (EU) has had a strong relationship with the countries in the Western Balkans. The statement by the Commission President Juncker that there will be no enlargement within the mandate of this Commission has disillusioned many nationals of the Western Balkans.
There are challenges still to be resolved and old wounds to be mended, which requires the EU to play a constructive role in facilitating the development of trust and good neighbourliness between the Western Balkan countries.
The aim of this resolution is first of all to call on the EU to offer the nationals of the Western Balkan countries a genuine and tangible membership perspective, by setting out clear timelines for accession negotiations, thus incentivising the undertaking of reforms with a tangible goal at the end, namely accession to the European Union.
? Reaffirming the Declaration of the 2003 Thessaloniki EU-Western Balkans Summit;
? Building upon the resolution on taking responsibility for a European future of the Western Balkans adopted by the XXII European Congress in Paris, France;
? Welcoming the 2018 EU Enlargement Strategy concerning the countries of the Western Balkans;
? Expressing its satisfaction with the developments of the Berlin Process;
? Bearing in mind the successful start of the accession negotiations with Montenegro in June 2012;
? Deploring the fact that the Brussels Agreement between the Serbian and Kosovar authorities, concluded in April 2013, was not signed or ratified;
? Keeping in mind the successful start of accession negotiations with Serbia in January 2014;
? Reminding the historical responsibility of the EU to integrate the Western Balkans countries in the EU;
? Noting gladly the candidate country status granted to Albania in June 2014;
? Recognising that Albania still needs to implement several conditions in order to formally start accession negotiations, such as reforms to the justice system;
? Strongly believing that the start of the negotiations will further enhance their implementation by increasing the expectations from the Albanian authorities and thus their accountability;
? Taking into consideration the signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Kosovo in February 2016;
? Contemplating the submission of a membership application by Bosnia and Herzegovina in February 2016;
? Viewing with appreciation the adoption of the reform-oriented action plan – the 3-6-9 Plan by the Macedonian government aiming to dismantle the state capture of institutions and restore Macedonia’s EU accession process in June 2017;
? Recognising the efforts of the governments of Macedonia and Greece to relaunch the negotiations over the name issue and their readiness to resolve the name dispute;
? Guided by the European Commission's encouraging remarks for Western Balkan countries' EU accession in its 2017 state of the union address to the European Parliament;
? Restating the Western Balkans’ importance for the enlargement process of the European Union and the unification of the European continent;
? Concerned by the potential impact of the new border control draft rules on non-EU nationals seeking to utilise their right to visa-free travel, such as the citizens of the Western Balkan countries;
? Convinced that accession to the EU requires the acceding state to retain a high standard of rule of law, human rights and administrative practices after accession, so that the new member state is ready to participate in a deep political union;
? Convinced that the European Union’s reputation as the bastion of democracy, fundamental rights and high-quality public administration emanates in significant part from its Member States’ implementation of these ideals in their domestic jurisdictions;
? Emphasising the importance of a strong civil society as factor and driving force for sustainable democratic and rule of law oriented development in western Balkans;
1. Calls upon the EU and its member states to offer a clear membership perspective for the countries and citizens of the Western Balkans, by initiating accession negotiations and setting concrete target-dates for accession for each state so as to incentivise compliance with EU norms and values with a clearly-defined goal in sight;
2. Urges the Western Balkan countries interested in membership to signal their willingness to join the European project by implementing the reforms proposed by the Senior Expert Groups and other bodies;
3. Warns the European Union against admitting Member States that do not fully meet the predetermined conditions for accession, and against disallowing entry to states which are ready and willing to be a part of a closely integrated European Union;
4. Notes that the European Union should refrain from imposing new criteria for accession on an applicant state while the predetermined goals are being reached, as it would undermine the credibility of the accession process in the eyes of acceding states, such as those in the Western Balkans, unless compelling and objective justifications for such practice are provided by the European Commission;
5. Encourages the signing and ratification of the Brussels Agreement by the parties, in order to contribute to stability, cooperation and good neighbourly relations;
6. Stresses the need to take into account the potential impact of the new border control draft rules on the non-EU nationals seeking to utilise their right to visa-free travel, such as the citizens of the Western Balkan countries;
7. Calls upon the EU to assist in the resolution of the name dispute between its member state Greece and Macedonia as this would contribute to clarity and stability in the Balkans, facilitating the integration of Macedonia.
8. Calls upon the European commission and European countries to financially support projects and programs by civil society especially on democracy, the rule of law and European Integration as well as European civic initiatives to strengthen the civic cooperation between the EU and western Balkans
9. Urges the institutions of the EU to engage themselves into a deep and adequate institutional reform in order to prepare for a new institutional design and decision-making process comprising more than the current 28 member states, In the perspective of the integration of the Western Balkan countries;
10. Encourages the EU and the Western Balkan countries not to proceed only through bilateral negotiations, but to approach the accession negotiations as a common process in order to facilitate exchanges of best practices, cooperation and mediation between them all.
You can download the resolution "For the Integration of the Western Balkans"