ZAGREB, June 26, 2022 – The European Parliament has appointed Croatian MEP Tonino Picula rapporteur on the EU’s new enlargement strategy, his office announced on Sunday.
Its task will be to formulate a proposal for the new enlargement strategy, which should then be adopted by the European Parliament and forwarded to the European Council, the European Commission and the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and security.
Picula said after his appointment that the proposal clearly emphasizes the value of the enlargement policy as a strategic investment in Europe’s security and prosperity, and that the enlargement policy has already largely contributed to the restoration of peace in regions previously affected by war.
He said that enlargement is the EU’s most effective foreign policy instrument and one of the Union’s most successful policies.
It is also important for Croatia, because until we have other EU members on our borders, we will not be able to reap the full benefits of our membership, Picula said.
He said that enlargement is particularly important today, in the context of Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, in order to give Ukraine and Moldova a prospect of membership and to give new impetus to the enlargement policy.
The prosperity and security of the European Union depend on its ability to defend democracy both within and outside its borders, as well as human rights and the rules-based multilateral order clear, said the Croatian MP.
Speaking of candidates for membership, Picula said EU member states must start honoring their commitments to candidates who meet the set criteria and avoid using unresolved bilateral disputes to blackmail and block the membership process.
Picula recommends accelerating the integration of countries that demonstrate their commitment to the reforms necessary for EU membership, setting more transparent and consistent benchmarks, improving the measurement of progress and ensuring continuous political and technical support throughout the accession process.
With regard to Croatia’s neighbours, he called for the achievements of the Western Balkan countries to be recognized by opening accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia and by approving visa liberalization without delay with Kosovo.
He said the EU should also help Bosnia and Herzegovina achieve candidate status for membership as soon as possible and speed up the accession process with Montenegro as the most advanced candidate.
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