- Published on Wednesday, 20 June 2012 14:14
- Written by Bogdan Deleanu, Europuls,
Brussels, 20 June 2012: The Europuls think-tank has organized a conference on Enlargement on 19 June in the European Parliament, entitled "Enlargement in crisis. Who is still up for the tango?" Along the key speakers, over 100 EU affairs experts attended the debate.
Ivo Vajgl (MEP, ALDE, Slovenia) has highlighted the threat posed by nationalism, as an eroding factor of the enlargement process. In his opinion, the EU is meant to cover the whole continent. Enlargement fatigue calls for short-term answers, but the EU should think strategically, for the long term.
Alain Servantie (European Commission) has underlined the fact that the Copenhagen criteria have worked well in the case of Central and Eastern Europe. However, the Croatian case has brought to light the fact that we need to monitor more closely the implementation of the acquis covered by negotiation chapters 23 and 24.
Mihnea Motoc (Permanent Representative of the Romania to the EU) thinks that although the accomplishment of the last enlargement wave did not match the initial enthusiasm, the process should continue. In the light of the demographic and geopolitical changes affecting Europe, this policy is in fact an opportunity.
Davor Božinović (Croat Observer, EP) stressed the soft power that EU can exercise through enlargement. He also mentioned that the EU should focus more on improving public communication in the Western Balkans. The Croat experience showed that EU needs to rethink its scholastic approach of the negotiations process.
Selim Yenel (Permanent Delegate of Turkey to the European Union) restated Turkey's wish to join the EU. Although the process has stalled, in his opinion Turkey is a patient nation. EU might prefer to keep Turkey at an arm's length, but for Turks the process is as important as the end result. We are concentrating on the visa liberalization, as an issue with great resonance that can bring a breath of fresh air in the negotiation process. "We are on the brink of obtaining the agreement", Yenel stated.
For Corina Stratulat (European Policy Centre) enlargement is still relevant as the best way to promote security, peace and prosperity. For her, also, the Copenhagen criteria have worked well but there is a need to improve attention to fulfil substantive aspects of democracy and treat the organizations of the civil society as the direct representatives of the people.
Speaking from the audience, Eduard Kukan (MEP, EPP, Slovakia) stressed that regional cooperation is a must. " We need to dance together in a hora, not to tango", the MEP emphasized.