When commenting on the European Commission’s Monitoring Report on Croatia’s accession preparations on 10 October, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis congratulated Croatia on its successful and purposeful efforts to become a fully-fledged member of the EU.
The European Commission positively assessed Croatia’s preparations for its accession to the EU on 1 July 2013, when Lithuania will take over the Presidency of the EU Council.
On 10 October, the European Commission adopted the 2012 Enlargement package. This year it comprises three Communications: a Strategy Paper, a Feasibility Study for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Kosovo, and the Main Findings of the Comprehensive monitoring report on Croatia’s accession preparations; as well as Progress Reports on the other candidate countries and potential candidates - Iceland, Turkey and the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Serbia) - and a Comprehensive Monitoring Report on Croatia.
The Lithuanian Foreign Minister said about the importance of the continuation of the EU enlargement policy: “Due to persisting financial and economic problems there are doubts about the relevance and necessity of the continuation of the EU’s enlargement policy. However, the Progress Reports on the candidate countries and potential candidates confirm that the enlargement policy is still one of the most effective instruments to assure security and stability in Europe.”
Ažubalis noted that Lithuania consistently spoke in favour of the continuation of the EU’s enlargement, assessing countries on a case-by-case basis. According to the Minister, candidate countries can become fully-fledged members of the EU only when they meet requirements for EU membership and achieve irreversible progress in the implementation of reforms.
“The expedient negotiations on Iceland’s accession to the EU have given a new impetus to the EU’s enlargement policy. Bearing in mind the good progress in negotiations with Iceland, Lithuania has set a priority goal for its forthcoming Presidency of the EU Council in the second half of 2013 to accelerate Iceland’s accession to the EU.
When assessing the progress of Serbia in European integration, Ažubalis stressed that Serbia’s future European perspective would depend solely on timely implementation of the requirements of the Council and continuation of the on-going reforms, especially in the fields of the rule of law, fight against corruption, human rights, and business and investment climate enhancement.
This year, the European Commission recommends for a fourth time to open accession negotiations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the country was granted candidate status in 2005. The Commission also welcomed the readiness of Croatia to assume the obligations of EU membership on 1 July 2013.
In its annual Enlargement package the European Commission sets out the main provisions of the EU’s enlargement policy and political guidelines for next year.
More information: 2012 Strategy and Progress reports