COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans
1. On 6th February 2018, the Commission published a Western Balkans Strategy, calling on the countries in the region to make progress on the reforms needed to advance EU accession, while setting out measures the Commission will take to support this progress. This Strategy is in addition to the Commission’s Communications on EU Enlargement Policy and Country Reports, the next of which are expected to be published in April 2018 as part of the Annual Enlargement Package (AEP). The AEP is expected, as in previous years, to include a report for each of the Western Balkans countries and Turkey.
2. The Strategy follows on from President Juncker’s 13 September 2017 State of the Union Address in which he called for a credible enlargement perspective for the Western Balkans and set out that the next phase of enlargement could take place in 2025. The Strategy repeats President Juncker’s earlier position that there will be no further enlargement of the EU during the mandate of the existing Commission and European Parliament up to 2019. The Strategy calls on all Western Balkans countries to “urgently redouble their efforts” in addressing the rule of law, justice and fundamental rights if they are to move forward on their accession negotiation path.
3. The main elements of the Commission’s Strategy are summarised below along with the Government’s position.