On 5th February, the European Commission will respond to France’s proposal for a new enlargement methodology.
In fact, this will be a response to the French non-paper from two and a half months ago, which suggested a new methodology for EU enlargement, which directly concerns the countries of the Western Balkans, including Serbia.
The Commission will present its proposal, which, in addition to containing the response to the French non-paper, will include other proposals that have been put forward by a group of nine EU Member States. All this should be collected in a single document to be discussed later by the Member States.
The French document has caused a great public upheaval in the Balkan region; firstly because it is not a clear text (with some people interpreting it as the end of all European ambitions of Serbia), but also because of the realistically different criteria it proposes for the EU accession.
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The new approach should be based on four principles: gradual association, stricter conditions, concrete advantages and reversibility.
However, reversibility (reconsideration of chapters opened in negotiations) will be probably deleted from the document. Unofficially, Serbia and Montenegro will not have to restart negotiations from the outset, but what they have done so far will be taken into account.
Furthermore, the idea is to monitor the situation on the ground to a greater extent, i.e. how the reforms are implemented in practice and not just on paper.
On 6th February, the EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Vrahelyi will personally present the new guidelines on EU enlargement policy during his visit to Belgrade.
After the EU Council obliged the European Commission, at the end of last year, to present a proposal for a new methodology for the accession process of the candidate countries, the Commission is said to be finalizing the document and will present it soon.
“We do not want to change the enlargement procedures, but to improve the process,” said EC spokeswoman Ana Pisonero.
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