EU on track for further enlargement, ECR group says
10th February 2010
In a European Parliament debate on the progress made by Croatia, Turkey and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia towards EU membership, the European Conservatives and Reformists group said that Croatia is on track for membership, whilst other countries are making progress.
In the debate, Charles Tannock MEP, ECR foreign affairs coordinator, said:
"The ECR group favours enlargement of the EU. We see not only significant benefits in a larger single market but we look for a dilution of the federalist ambition at the heart of the EU.
"However, candidates must be subject to rigorous and exacting standards as laid out in the Copenhagen criteria. We therefore endorse the commission's thorough approach to preparing candidates for membership and its willingness to learn the lessons of previous enlargements, in particular to Bulgaria and Romania where there were some outstanding problems in the areas of organised crime and corruption. Croatia, along with Iceland if approved as a candidate, is undoubtedly the country most ready to join the EU and its accession will help stabilise the Western Balkans.
"We support immediate calls to the council to allow opening of negotiations for membership for Macedonia. The ECR believes that the almost comical name dispute with Greece should be resolved sensibly and rapidly. President Ivanov has helped to add momentum to Macedonia's EU ambitions and we hope his request to meet the newly re-elected president of Greece will be reciprocated in the spirit of friendship.
"As permanent rapporteur for Montenegro, I should just like to add that in my view, having recently visited the country, it is well on the way to candidate status and I hope to see that happen as soon as possible."
ECR foreign affairs committee member Tomasz Poreba said:
"I hope that negotiations with Croatia will be finalized by the end of this year and that negotiations with Macedonia will begin. On more than one occasion, Croatia has proved that it is a devoted ally, not only in terms of European integration, but also in the defence of our common values and the security of our continent.
"We appreciate the fact that Croatian NATO forces are present in Kosovo and Afghanistan. Close to 300 Croatian soldiers, diplomats and police officers are involved in ISAF operations in three different regions of Afghanistan. As a member of the North Atlantic alliance, our new ally is courageously involved in our fight against global terrorism.
"Croatia's membership in the European Union will increase stability in a part of Europe that just a few years ago experienced brutal conflicts and ethnic cleansing.
"Zagreb has implemented widespread reforms, especially in areas of justice and public administration and in the fight against corruption and organised crime. Croatia's accession is part of our strategy of building a continent marked by democracy and prosperity. The example of this Balkan country confirms that the process of expanding the European Union is a strong catalyst for political and economic reform within countries who aspire to membership. We have to keep this in mind when looking at our eastern neighbour, Ukraine."