EU 2023 Enlargement Package: Progress and Prospects for Eastern Countries

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On Wednesday, September 8th, the European Commission adopted the 2023 Enlargement package.

The latter provides an in-depth assessment of the progress made by Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Turkey for their respective paths toward EU membership and provides clear guidance on future reform priorities. Furthermore, in its annual report on enlargement, the European executive also gave the green light to a new step towards the accession of Ukraine and Moldova to the European Union.

“Enlargement is a vital policy for the European Union. Completing our Union is the natural horizon of our Union. Completing our Union also has a strong economic and geopolitical logic in this very moment. Past enlargements have shown enormous benefits both for the accession countries and the EU. We all win. » declared European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

An accelerated process for Ukraine and Moldova.

Although there is still a long way to go, Ukraine and Moldova have completed the steps in record time: just one and a half years. Indeed, 4 days following the invasion of Russia, on February 28, 2022, Ukraine requested its candidacy for the EU, followed on March 3 by Moldova. The following June 23, the two countries officially became candidates. For comparison, North Macedonia had to wait 17 years to begin accession negotiations after receiving its candidate status (2005-2022).

It now remains for the heads of state and government of the twenty-seven European countries to choose whether or not they follow the recommendation of the European Commission to launch negotiations for accession to the EU, at the next European Council on the 14th and 15th of December.

Encouraging progress for Georgia and the Balkans.

Following the results obtained, the Commission recommends to the Council to grant Georgia the status of candidate country, subject to the achievement of a certain number of priorities.

Concerning the Balkan countries, the commission has also recently announced a new economic growth plan linked to the advantages of membership in the European Union even before this one. This stimulation of economic growth would “accelerate the socio-economic convergence in the region by encouraging partner countries to intensify their reforms and investments”.

To support this initiative, a new Reform and Growth Facility worth €6 billion over the period 2024-2027 has been proposed, with payments conditional on the implementation of agreed reforms.

References:

“Commission Adopts 2023 Enlargement Package, Recommends to Open Negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova, to Grant Candidate Status to Georgia and to Open Accession Negotiations with BiH, Once the Necessary Degree of Compliance Is Achieved.” 2023 Enlargment Package, November 8, 2023. European Commission. https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_23_5633.

Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations. “Commission Presents a New Growth Plan for the Western Balkans Including €6 Billion in Grants and Loans to Accelerate Economic Convergence with the EU.” European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), November 8, 2023.

https://neighbourhood-enlargement.ec.europa.eu/news/commission-presents-new-growth-plan-western-balkans-including-eu6-billion-grants-and-loans-2023-11-08_en
Arno Beaume
WRITTEN BY

Arno Beaume

I have a keen interest in the areas of international relations and the foreign policies of great powers, with a particular emphasis concerning international diplomatic negotiations and conflict resolution. I also have a daily habit of keeping up with world news for the past few years, making it a natural choice for me to delve into writing about these global events.

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