The European People’s Party (EPP) welcomes the European Commission’s highly anticipated Western Balkans Strategy and fully supports the EU’s commitment with a clear enlargement perspective to all the countries in the region. With this occasion, EPP President Joseph Daul made the following statement:

“The European Union’s enlargement has been one of the most successful European policies to bring freedom, democracy, peace, and economic development to countries wanting to join our union. But above all, it brought hope to the people who strongly believe that their future is in the EU.

In fact, the EPP has been the only political force to actively promote an enlargement agenda. That’s why I am delighted to see that the Juncker Commission has come forward with a concrete plan to bring the Western Balkan states within the EU. In particular, I would like to congratulate EPP Vice-President and Commissioner Johannes Hahn for his tireless efforts to make the Western Balkans Strategy happen.

The Western Balkans are our closest partners and are already geographically inside the EU borders. EPP will continue to stay ready and committed to support their integration in the EU and help them on their reform path. But a lot remains to be done.

Implementing the necessary reforms and solving all standing bilateral disagreements remain clear preconditions for EU membership. The Western Balkan states must also continue fighting against corruption, abiding by the rule of law, and putting in place an independent justice system. Only then will their economies stabilise, attracting new investments and creating new jobs and prosperity for their citizens, especially the youth.

EPP remains committed to the Western Balkan countries joining the EU family but we also expect that our partners deliver on the reforms they’ve committed to for the benefit of their people and the region as a whole. Unfortunately, many of the current leaders in the region are taking a completely different direction than the one required by the EU.”