The Joint Parliamentary Meeting (JPM) on the Western Balkans ended today with a general agreement among participants that the EU accession prospects of the Western Balkans are the right way to ensure the necessary reforms in the countries in the region.
Reporting back from the previous day's two working groups, Doris Pack (EPP, DE) spoke of the positive effects that are expected from recent visa liberalization agreements with the Western Balkans countries. She also said that "in some sense, the root of all evil is that a functioning social order cannot be established in countries with serious economic poverty." Mihály Balla (Hungarian Parliament) emphasized that for EU integration to be successful, "the integration of citizens is just as important as the political integration of countries into the EU." "Isolated national arguments about enlargement are not helpful in this regard," he added, "we need multilateral fora such as these to achieve progress."
EU leaders underline the European perspective of the Western Balkans
In the name of the Presidency of the Council, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said the Western Balkans constitute "a sort of enclave within the territory of the European Union. We have the sense that they constitute unfinished business." He warned that "we cannot leave this glaring hole in Europe," and that "if we do not integrate this region, others will: there are plenty of potential suitors at the door." "Europe needs to be open to enlargement, and the countries of the region need to do their homework," he concluded.
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso also emphasized that "Europe sees the Western Balkans as members of the European family of nations." He also underlined the importance of debating such issues in parliamentary fora, especially one like the JPM, which brings together MEPs and national parliamentarians. "The EU is not only Brussels and Strasbourg, it's what we do in national parliaments," he said.
The Joint Parliamentary Meeting brought together MEPs with Members of national parliaments to debate the European integration process of the Western Balkans. It was held over two days in the Hemicycle of the European Parliament. You can watch the recording of the meeting at the link below.
In the Chair: Jerzy Buzek (EPP, PL) and László Kövér (President of Hungarian Parliament)