The Future of Europe – a perspective from an EU candidate country
The enlargement process of the EU has seemed to slowed down since the accession of Croatia, nevertheless the countries of the Western Balkans region have a clear membership perspective. Since these countries will join the European Union, it is essential to also hear from their citizens what they think about the future of Europe and what they expect from the European institutions. Ambassadors of the Visegrad Group (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) as well as the ambassador of the current presidency, Slovenia, accredited to Skopje will present their positions, followed by interventions of students from the University American College Skopje (UACS), presenting their ideas. The program is organized together by the Hungarian presidency of the Visegrad Group and UACS with the aim to highlight the importance of the enlargement process and the inclusion of citizens – especially youth – from the Western Balkans in the process on the future of Europe. It will be held at the University American College Skopje (UACS), Treta Makedonska Brigada nr. 60, Skopje 1000.
1027 Budapest, Bem rakpart 47.
Event reportAmbassadors of the Visegrad Group (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) and the ambassador of the current presidency, Slovenia, accredited to Skopje together with students from the University American College Skopje held a fruitful discussion on the membership perspective of the countries of the Western Balkans region, the prospect of the enlargement process and the future of Europe in general. According to Hungarian Ambassador László Dux the EU is strong if its member states are strong, and in this context, Hungary considers enlargement one of the most important policies of the EU. Hungary's position is that the EU benefits more from enlargement than the countries that join the Union, and that is why we are committed to keeping this agenda high in the EU – said Ambassador Dux, stressing that from the point of view of the credibility of the EU, it is very important to fulfil the promise of full membership once the countries of the region meet the membership criteria. Ambassador Miroslav Toman said that Czech Republic is also very vocal at all EU councils regarding the enlargement, because they consider the EU incomplete without the Western Balkan countries. The Czech Republic takes over the EU presidency in the second half of 2022, and as he said, they would like to focus on other things than holding the first intergovernmental conference, because Prague wants that to happen as soon as possible. Slovak Ambassador Henrik Markus emphasized that the integration of the Western Balkan countries and the way to do it effectively, are also very important issues. He referred to French President Macron's vision for reform of the Union and the request for a new methodology that technically hindered the opening negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania as big mistakes that had bad consequences. Ambassador Wojciech Tyciński highlighted that Poland has a geopolitical approach to the enlargement policy, based on that the region is crucial to Europe's future. North Macedonia should become an EU member without any additional conditions – he said. Slovenian Ambassador to the country Milan Predan, as representative of the EU Presidency, sounded optimistic about the possibility of a decision in December that could be formalized in January, if Bulgaria forms a government soon. In order to reach a solution, both countries need to be more active. The Presidency shares the opinion with the majority of EU countries that there should be no separation between North Macedonia and Albania. Students from UACS also stressed the importance of the EU’s enlargement policy, and the need to integrate the countries of the Western Balkans into the EU. The urgent need to open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia were also highlighted. Questions related to the Green Deal, emigration and brain drain as well as youth policy were also raised.
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