The European Commission just presented a new strategy for the countries in Western Balkans in order to reinvigorate their relations with Europe. Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake (D66/ALDE) welcomes the new levels of ambition towards the candidate countries.
Schaake: "For the countries in the Western Balkan, EU membership is a much desired goal. This allows us to demand concrete improvements on human rights, democracy and the rule of law. By taking the ambitions of the candidate countries seriously, we not only increase stability on our eastern borders, but also keep Putin at bay."
Schaake emphasises that the bar for accession will remain high. Short-term interests and geopolitical considerations cannot lead to exceptions to the accession criteria.
Schaake: "The so-called Turkey deal is an example of ambiguous EU policy towards accession countries. The Netherlands, which came up with the idea for a refugee deal with Turkey yesterday had to withdraw its ambassador to Ankara. The Commission cannot wait any longer to make it crystal clear to Erdogan that it is his autocratic policies that close Turkey's door to Europe. Failure to do so will undermine both our credibility and influence over those countries that still want to join the EU."