A delegation of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia took part in the high-level roundtable on the European Integration Process of the Western Balkans on 3 December 2019 at the European Parliament in Brussels, Kingdom of Belgium.
The delegation consisted of the Chairman of the European Integration Committee Nenad Canak, member of the European Integration Committee Vesna Markovic and member of the European Union-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee Milorad Mijatovic. Besides the National Assembly delegation, the roundtable was also attended by the parliamentary delegations from the Western Balkans: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia. On behalf of the European Parliament, in addition to President David Sassoli, the roundtable was attended by Vice-Presidents Fabio Massimo, Livia Jaroka and Dimitrios Papadimoulis and a great many of members of the European Parliament. On behalf of the European Commission the assembly was addressed by Oliver Varhely.
A debate on the new prospects for the EU enlargement policy and the role of the parliament in strengthening the reform agenda were on the roundtable’s agenda. The representatives of the countries of the Western Balkans objected to the slowing down of the enlargement process, especially the failure to open negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, noting that the European Union needs to take a different, more committed stance on the Western Balkans.
The Chairman of the European Integration Committee Nenad Canak said that making the Western Balkans wait to join the European Union with no clear rules or concrete demands what it is expected to do, harms the Western Balkans, Balkans in general and Europe as a whole. In a way, it brings into question the efforts invested to approach the EU and continue the integration process. The Western Balkans, and the entire Balkan area, is a very sensitive mosaic of a region that needs to be approached with caution. “The events and political developments in the Western Balkans know no borders, which is why the failure to open negotiations with North Macedonia affected us so much”, said Canak.
Vesna Markovic, member of the European Integration Committee, agreed with her colleagues from the region that not opening negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania sent a bad message to the region. The Brussels Agreement and Berlin Process brought new hope to the relations in our region. Several years later, as a result, we have the import tariffs imposed by Pristina on goods from central Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Markovic also said that we are getting different messages from France and Germany. French President Macron urges to redefine the relations inside the EU, only after that can we speak about enlargement. President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said that the door of the European Union is open for further enlargement. The non-paper document adopted by Germany and France primarily concerns reform within the European Union. We are all facing challenges of our own, both the EU and the Western Balkans. Some of the challenges are common and require cooperation as we saw in the case of the migrant crisis. “I believe that the European Union will survive, most likely in a different form, and that it will continue the enlargement process”, Markovic added.