While opening a European perspective to Ukraine and Moldova the EU needs to deliver on its promises to the Western Balkans

Statement by Christa Schweng, president of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and Dimitris Dimitriadis, president of the Section for External Relations (REX)

Brussels 24 June 2022

The EESC warmly welcomes granting of the EU candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova as well as the intention to grant the same status to Georgia after the country fulfills the conditions set by the European Commission. As stated in the EESC resolution on Ukraine – from relief to reconstruction – proposals by the European civil society, adopted on 16 June 2022, the Committee stands ready to strengthen cooperation and exchanges with Ukrainian civil society in view of Ukraine's European future. The EESC is committed to provide similar support to Moldova and Georgia with whom, just like with Ukraine, it has established fully functional and institutionalised bilateral civil society channels.

While seeing the urgency of the moment, the EESC echoes its statement It is high time to step up EU engagement in the Western Balkans issued in December 2021. The Committee reiterates its support to further EU enlargement since we strongly believe that also the European integration of the Western Balkans, represents a geostrategic investment in the peace, stability, and economic as well as social development of the entire continent.

Following the EU-Western Balkans leaders' meeting on 23 June 2022, the EESC once again urges the Council and all the EU Member States to live by their commitments and finally adopt the negotiating frameworks for the formal start of EU accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia and grant visa liberalisation for Kosovo⃰, citizens. Given the difficulties experienced by the Member States in reaching unanimity on enlargement, the EESC considers that the Council should revisit the possibility of introducing qualified majority voting, at least for all intermediary stages of the EU accession process.
Granting EU candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina as soon as possible should also remain a key priority. The EESC therefore calls for all parties in the country to overcome their differences and focus on fulfilling the necessary criteria for Bosnia and Herzegovina and its citizens to progress on their European integration path.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.