The International Trade Council commends the recent announcement from the European Commission, expressing its intention to recommend bolstered financial support and market access to countries aspiring for EU membership. This move aims to expedite their accession preparations, stated EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi.
Currently, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine possess official EU candidate status. Additionally, Georgia and Kosovo have been identified as potential candidate nations.
Charles Michel, the chair of European Union leaders, emphasizes the EU's readiness to onboard new members, provided they fulfil the requisite entry criteria, targeting a horizon of 2030 for this ambition.
Oliver Varhelyi, at a press briefing, conveyed, "In the forthcoming weeks, a novel perspective on enlargement will be unveiled, encompassing a comprehensive package for 10 candidate nations or those with European prospects."
He added, "The objective is not merely progression, but to furnish the means for a rapid integration," elaborating on this vision post a conference with EU ministers in Spain, where the blueprint for welcoming new member nations was discussed.
Aiming to bridge the "economic and social gap" between the Western Balkan nations and the existing EU members prior to their integration, Varhelyi highlighted the EU's commitment. The outlined plan proposes that these nations gradually avail the privileges of the EU's expansive single market, encompassing 450 million consumers, ensuring unhindered movement of goods, services, labour, and capital even before attaining full-fledged EU membership.
He accentuated, "Our endeavor is to facilitate the phased integration of these nations into the single market and its four pillars, even preceding formal accession. This strategy is mutually advantageous for both the European Union and the aspiring nations."
Furthermore, the Commission's proposal is anticipated to advocate augmented financial backing for the candidate nations to accelerate the requisite reforms for joining the existing 27-member consortium. Though exact figures remain undisclosed, this financial support will be supplemental to the EU's current pre-accession assistance for candidate nations, which for the 2021-2027 fiscal timeframe amounts to 14.2 billion euros (approx. $14.98 billion).
Conclusively, these measures underscore the EU's proactive approach to integrate new nations, concurrently placing the responsibility on the aspiring members to optimally capitalize on these extended opportunities.