Extracts from the common debate on the Western Balkans, plenary session of the EP
End production: 23/04/2009
The prospect of future EU membership for countries of the Western Balkans is the primary guarantor of stability and a driver of reforms, say Members of the EP in a report. Full membership to the EU of countries that satisfy the Copenhagen criteria must not be delayed or denied, say Members of the EP to the Commission and to the Member States. The EU's leverage in the Western Balkans depends on the credibility of its commitment to a European future for the region. Members of the EP ask the Commission and the Member States not to unduly delay or deny full membership of the EU for countries that satisfy the Copenhagen criteria. The accession process must be based on a fair and rigorous application of the principle of conditionality whereby each country will be judged solely in the light of its capacity to meet the criteria laid down. Efforts must be made to avoid a situation whereby differences in the pace of integration result in the erection of new barriers in the region, in particular with regard to the process of visa liberalisation.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
|| Exterior view of the European Parliament in Strasbourg
|| Soundbite by Anna Ibrisagic, Member of the EP, (in SWEDISH): the only opportunity to overcome matters is to continue their membership towards the EU; this is the only policy that will work; the prospect of the membership in other words so that they can once enjoy peace and stability in the Western Balkans;
if the EU says it can't take on any more members, then it is contradictory; because I certainly believe that we must take on new members; but we need the right political determination from the Lisbon Treaty for that to happen.
|| Soundbite by Petr Nečas, Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Labour and Social Affairs and President in office of the Council, (in CZECH): Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to make significant changes to internal structures and this is making processes; we are disappointed by the lack of progress in the work of the Bosnian Council of Ministers and Parliamentary Assembly; they fall far short of what is necessary; the State institutions urgently need strengthening and their functions improved in a way that starts to deliver real results; this is essential since the EU can only deal with Bosnia and Herzegovina as whole and not with component parts.
|| Soundbite by Olli Rehn, Member of the EC in charge of Enlargement, (in ENGLISH): we must not put these achievements at risk through any kind of complaisance or destruction by sometimes perhaps more urgent matters; many will have questions about EU enlargement in the middle of an EU crisis and discussions are likely to intensify as we approach the next elections for this Parliament; this is understandable and I for one feel the pain of the citizens concerning their future, their jobs and welfare; but at the same time let's not make EU enlargement a scapegoat for something it is not responsible for.
on Bosnia and Herzegovina: overall reform has remained slow, including on the key EU priorities and challenges remain; nationalist rhetoric is still very present creating unnecessary political tensions; this needs to change if Bosnia and Herzegovina wants to continue its progress towards the EU and avoid falling behind its neighbours.
the hope to table a proposal for visa free travel by the end of the Czech Presidency for those countries that are most advanced in this field and have fulfilled the established conditions, this could enable such decisions by the Council that we could achieve visa free travel for the most advanced countries by the end of 2009.
|| Soundbite by Doris Pack, Member of the EP, (in GERMAN): I'd like to refer to 3 points which are proper State ownership, this whole issue has to be solved, there has to be a reform of the constitution, which would born by a consensus by the political and social level of society; it is only the whole state of Bosnia and Herzegovina that could become a member of the EU; we have to look at the visa issues and the citizens of this country wish to move freely like their politicians do already and by the end of the year the politicians have to make sure that the green light is given.
|| Soundbite by Hannes Swoboda, Member of the EP, (in GERMAN): it is a very difficult and long road and it is not going to happen over night and the messages I'm getting from various sources saying that let Croatia and than perhaps put the breaks on, that is a false signal and Doris Pack has rightly underlined this; people might feel confronted by a Europe that takes too much time for further enlargements;
this is something the people in the country have to do themselves; we can't do it for them; they have to solve their own problems; than the door to the EU membership will be open; the roadmap to accession is depending on the efforts done by the citizens and we have to continue to stay determent on our side as well.
|| Cutaways (5 shots)