18:23 15 Dec 2023

The reasons for EU enlargement have never been stronger – von der Leyen

During a press conference following the two-day European Council meeting, the Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said that the decision to enlarge the EU further has never had such a powerful reason.

She calls it a response to growing instability in the world and an investment in the security and prosperity of the entire continent, the press release says.

"I think that yesterday's decisions show that the European Union is living up to its promise. The reasons for enlargement today have never been stronger and more compelling. In a world that is shaken by multiple crises, it is an investment in stability and security of our continent. But of course, it is also an investment in prosperity for our continent. And it is a big investment in democracies that stand tall and united."

The EU enlargement steps agreed at the highest level on Thursday are an outstanding mark for the entire common history of the bloc.

This applies to the decision to open enlargement talks with Ukraine and Moldova, to grant candidate country status to Georgia, and to open accession talks with Bosnia and Herzegovina as soon as the country meets the necessary criteria.

"We have strongly reiterated our collective commitment to a future where all six Western Balkan partners are part of our Union. For example, for Albania and North Macedonia, the Commission's objective is to open accession negotiations on the first so-called fundamentals' cluster as soon as possible. The attempt is to reach that goal next week."

The EU leaders greenlighted the process of negotiations on Ukraine and Moldova's accession to the bloc, Charles Michel reported on Thursday.

At the same time, they failed to reach a consensus and adopt amendments to the EU's 2024-2027 multiannual budget, which included, among other things, the creation of a €50 billion Ukraine Fund to provide budgetary support to Ukraine during the war and to create conditions for its post-war recovery. European leaders postponed consideration of this issue until early next year.

On November 8, the EU Commission officially recommended the states start negotiations on Ukraine's accession.

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