Yesterday the European Commission published its report on progress made by those countries applying for EU membership. Vice-Chair of the EP Delegation to South-East Europe and rapporteur on EU-Serbian relations, Jelko Kacin (LDS, Slovenia) pointed to mixed progress across the region.
"The Commission's progress reports are a reminder that accession prospects are a major incentive for political and economic reform in those countries applying to join."
"Serbia has demonstrated a renewed commitment to its European agenda by opening up to a dialogue with Pristina and has continued to fulfil the requirements set out in the Stabilisation and Association Agreement. However the country made an important step in the process of regional reconciliation when President Tadic visited Vukovar and apologised for war crimes committed there during the war. However much more needs to be done in reform of the judicial system and the fight against corruption and organized crime."
The Commission however denied granting candidate status to Albania for the moment due to lack of progress, whilst accepting that of Montenegro. Marietje Schaake (D66, Netherlands) ALDE shadow rapporteur on Albania agreed with the decision:
"The strict judgement of the Commission should be considered a strong signal to Albanian politicians that the ball is now in their court. They have to create constructive reform. The people of Albania are not served by the current political stalemate and the lack of democracy and the rule of law. The EU is strict but fair in its judgement of applications for membership."
"Nevertheless, the ALDE group has pushed strongly forAlbaniato be included in the visa-free travel regime, as the next generation of Abanians will benefit greatly from travelling, working and studying inEurope."
Meanwhile, Croatiais the closest to actually joining the EU. Ivo Vaijgl (Zares, Slovenia), ALDE spokesperson on Croatia's accession application said:
"The report of the Commission is good news for Zagreb. The progress achieved puts Croatia in the very final phase. I am confident that negotiations can be concluded in the near future, provided that Croatia continues to progress on key areas, such as judiciary reform, fight against corruption and depoliticisation and strengthening of the public administration. More needs to be done also in relation to the issue of refugee returns and discrimination of minorities."