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„Brussels Must Reconsider Enlargement Policy“

Published: April 25, 2014; 14:05 · (Vindobona)

Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sebastian Kurz criticized the EU´s approach towards Ukraine. However, the EU has to develop further.

Kurz: Western Balkans Should Join EU, Not Ukraine / Picture: © Wikipedia / Dragan Tatic

Ten years ago, ten countries in CESEE (Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe) joined the EU. According to Kurz, the enlargement in 2004 was a success. Now, the EU needs further impulses, Kurz said at a festive event on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the EU enlargement in Vienna. Otherwise the EU may lose its competitiveness.

Besides that, the EU has of offer more transparency and a greater and more democratic say to its citizens, Kurz added. Moreover, countries in the Western Balkan should get a perspective to join the EU. “Countries which are no members yet should obtain a perspective.”

However, the EU should reconsider its associative model, Kurz said. “The EU enlargement plans for Moldavia or Ukraine have caused enormous difficulties for these countries.  According to Kurz, countries like Ukraine must not be confronted with such fundamental decisions now. “We have to find alternative solutions.”

Eniko Györi, Hungarian State Secretary of European Affairs said that the EU accession has a „transformative effect“ for new member countries. However, Brussels should not treat the member states like pupils.“

Miroslav Lajcak, Slovakia´s Minister of Foreign Affairs noted that the EU enlargement “is no humanitarian action”. Lajcak pointed out that the enlargement has to make Europe stronger. “In the Western Balkans, for instance, the sole perspective is not enough. The governments do not do their homework.” Lajcak added that an EU accession of Ukraine or Moldavia is no issue for the time being. “These countries have not found a final decision yet.”

According to Andreas Treichl, CEO of the Vienna-listed lender Erste Group, regrets that many people are leaving the new EU member countries because of a lack of future prospects. “We must give more hope to young people,” Treichl concluded.

Slovenia´s State Secretary Igor Sencar, who joined the festive event, stressed that the EU enlargement is not yet finished. According to Sencar, also Turkey should be seen as potential candidate.

Already two weeks ago, Kurz said that Brussels did not make everything right. “It was right to offer a perspective to Ukraine. But Brussels did not expect that Ukraine signs the association treaty and the conflict with Russia in Crimea. In retrospective, of course, talks with Russia would have been better than putting pressure on Ukraine to sign the association treaty. For Ukraine, there must be another alternative than the EU membership and the Eurasian free trade area. We have to stop the ideology of blocs.”

Kurz also proposed a deepening of the economic co-operation between Russia and the EU. “We have to work on a vision to create a common free trade area with Russia.”