The European Union Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu discussed issues related to the Eastern Partnership and EU enlargement at its meeting. Estonia stresses that respect for the principles of the rule of law, democratic governance and efficient economic management must be followed in the enlargement. Estonia considers it justified to continue the accession process with candidate countries Turkey, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia.
“Estonia supports the continuation of the European Union enlargement process, although no quick solutions are to be expected. The Eastern Partnership programme needs to be reviewed and tailored more specifically to the particular needs of the countries taking part in it. At the same time, it is good to see that positive developments are taking place in the Western Balkans. The most practical step forward should be the candidate country status for Albania,” the Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee Arto Aas said.
Aas added that the EU enlargement is based on strict criteria that include programmes for structural reforms and improving competitiveness. To help in implementing these reforms, the European Union has created the assistance instrument IPA II, with a volume of EUR 11.7 billion over the next budget period (2014–2020).
The EU Affairs Committee discussed the problems of the Western Balkan states more in depth at its meeting.
The European Commission is recommending that Albania be given the EU candidate country status without additional conditions, as will be discussed at the Council of General Affairs on 17 December.
Estonia supports the opening of the negotiation chapters on the rule of law with Montenegro. The European Commission is looking for the negotiations with Montenegro to lead to more efficient reforms in following the standards of the rule of law.
Thanks to the agreement on normalising relations between Serbia and Kosovo, signed in April, both countries have taken a big step forward in integrating into the EU. The European Commission progress report on Serbia is generally positive. Estonia also supports starting the accession negotiations with Serbia. Stabilisation and association agreement negotiations with Kosovo were started in September and it is hoped that the process will be completed in spring 2014.
The Commission progress report recommended, for the fifth time running, to open accession negotiations with Macedonia. So far, this has been stalled because there has been no consensual decision from the part of the Council of the European Union. Estonia supports the opening of the accession negotiations with Macedonia.
The Commission progress report on Bosnia and Herzegovina was the most negative of the ones presented. Certain issues that have been discussed for a number of years, such as the discrimination of national minorities, have not been resolved over the course of this year. The European Commission decided to reduce the pre-accession assistance to the country by 54 % in October. Estonia supports the continuation of EU mediation activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in order to promote the progress of the country in the EU integration process.
On 16 October, the European Commission published its annual enlargement strategy and progress reports, analysing the current situation of the EU enlargement policy, developments in candidate countries and potential candidate countries, and providing guidelines for the next year.
Estonia’s positions in these issues will be presented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet at the Council of General Affairs of the EU on 17 December.
The Riigikogu Press Service
Your feedback is important. Please share it with us!