European Commissioner for Enlargement Oliver Varhei
Learn the most important and interesting with the bulletin at 5 p.m. Every day, directly to your email.
The European Commission will soon propose that the EU give more money to countries that want to join and offer them access to the single market to speed up their preparations for membership, EU enlargement commissioner Oliver Varhei said.
Eight countries currently have official EU candidate status – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine – while two, Georgia and Kosovo, are potential candidate countries.
European Council President Charles Michel called for the EU to be ready to accept new members and applicants to be ready to meet the entry criteria by 2030.
“In a few weeks you will see us presenting a new way of thinking about enlargement and a package that will now include 10 candidate countries or countries with a European perspective,” Varhei told a news conference. “In this report, we not only want to move forward, but we want to provide means for accelerated integration,” he said after a meeting in Spain of EU ministers who discussed how the EU should prepare to accept new members.
France and Germany offer four-speed Europe
Varhei said the EU would seek to help candidates prepare faster for EU membership through a growth plan for the Western Balkans to reduce the “economic and social gap” between these countries and the rest of the EU ahead of accession .
Under the scheme, countries will gradually gain access to the EU’s 450 million-user single market, where goods, services, labor and capital can move freely, even before they become full EU members. “We want to create an opportunity for the gradual integration of these countries into the single market, into the four freedoms, even before accession, because this will benefit both the European Union and the candidate countries,” said Varhei.
He said the commission’s proposal would require more money from the EU for candidates to help speed up the reforms needed to join the 27-member bloc. Potential amounts have not been disclosed.
The money will come in addition to the existing EU pre-accession aid for candidate countries, which in the EU budget for the period 2021 – 2027 amounts to a total of 14.2 billion euros. The measures will show that the EU is ready to welcome new members and put the onus on candidate countries to make full use of these opportunities, Varhei said.
Before it is too late – how the EU can support the accession of the Western Balkans