1 December 2015 The delegation of the European Integration Committee at the 54th COSAC

1 December 2015 The delegation of the European Integration Committee at the 54th COSAC

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of European Union Member States Endorse EU Enlargement and Opening of First Negotiation Chapters with Serbia

European Integration Committee Chairman Aleksandar Senic and Committee members Dusica Stojkovic and Katarina Susnjar took part in the 54th meeting of the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC), in Luxembourg, 29 November – 1 December, organised in the context of the parliamentary dimension of the Luxembourg presidency of the EU Council.

One of the key topics of the meeting was the EU enlargement policy. The member states spoke about the historical success of EU enlargement which had united and ensured the stability and progress of the old continent. They commended the support the European Commission provides to the candidate countries to help them meet the membership criteria and the progress of the Western Balkan countries in the stabilisation and association process. Simon Mordue of the EC Directorate General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said that in the last year Serbia had achieved notable progress in its economic reform, rule of law and fight against corruption, and the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and announced the opening of chapters 35 and 32 in December, at the international conference.

The Chair of the German Parliament’s Committee on the Affairs of the European Union, Gunther Krichbaum restated that the Western Balkan countries have a clear prospect of EU membership and informed the participants that the Bundestag green-lighted and recommended the opening of the first negotiation chapters with Serbia. He said that the reforms belong to the candidate country and that they are in the interest of the Serbian citizens. The quality of the negotiation is much more important than the number of opened chapters which is not in itself a measure of success. Speaking of Serbia he said that he agreed with the EC director and that chapters 35 and 32 would be opened in December, soon to be followed, in the first quarter of 2016, by chapters 23 and 24. Krichbaum said it is possible that Serbia’s membership talks will pick up speed after the opening of the first chapters, because a lot of time has passed and Serbia has in the meantime actively conducted reforms and prepared for the other negotiation chapters. He said he had a great deal of trust in Serbia, its institutions and the ongoing reform process.

European Integration Committee Chairman Aleksandar Senic emphasised the importance of support and encouragement for the European prospects of all the Western Balkan countries, adding that he was sure all the obstacles on Serbia’s path to opening the first chapters by the end of the year have been removed and that all the EU member states would support the efforts of the Serbian institutions by endorsing the opening of the negotiating chapters at the coming international conference. Senic opined that the enlargement process remains crucial for the momentum of the reforms and the future of the Western Balkan countries, well-being and stability in the region, and, he believes, the accession talks have the same kind of priority for the European Union as before: they continue in the same spirit with the same dedication, and the EU member states will continue to actively support Serbia and the countries of the region in their preparations for accession.

In the course of the two-day meeting the members of the parliamentary committees on union affairs of the 28 EU member states, the European Parliament, parliaments of EU candidate countries, European Commission, special guests, EU Council, European External Action Service, discussed the current refugee crisis and the European agenda on migration, common asylum policy and legal migration policy, fight against irregular migration and securing Europe’s external borders, single digital market strategy for Europe and the enlargement policy.

In the debate on the refugee crisis and the recent terrorist attack in Paris, on several occasions, the participants of the meeting reaffirmed the importance of maintaining European values and ideas, the Schengen system and the security of Europe and all of its citizens. The member states, for the most part, agreed that they should show solidarity and secure prompt and efficient humanitarian and financial aid to the most endangered first contact points with refugees, that the European Commission’s proposal of a permanent relocation mechanism was good and that a lasting solution should be found after the Dublin system is revised in 2016. All agreed that the control of the EU outer borders should be reinforces and with it the security of the citizens, and that the 17-point plan for the Western Balkans migration route needs to be conducted and to that end cooperation with the Western Balkan countries should be boosted.

Committee Chairman Aleksandar Senic said that in the last months Serbia has been dealing with challenges beyond its capacities, but has despite it treated the migrants and refugees humanely and with dignity, in line with international and European standards. He stressed that Serbia is committed to the common European values, goals and civilizational heritage, that the intensive coordination and cooperation should continue, but it should be accompanied by a more financial aid from the European Union. Senic said he was sure all the member states are interested in defining a comprehensive solution at the level of the Union, which would include defining the issue of relocation (return) of the migrants, adding that Serbia closely follows these efforts to establish better control and management of the refugee crisis.

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