The decision to open two more “chapters” in Serbia accession talks on Monday (18 July) showed that EU enlargement policy is alive and well despite Brexit, the EU has said.
Speaking at a meeting with Serbian PM Aleksandr Vucic in Brussels on Monday (18 July), Slovak foreign minister Miroslav Lajcak said: “The UK might be on its way out, but there is strong support for enlargement in the EU.
We want to maintain the credibility of the enlargement process and to make it tangible for those countries that are part of the process."
Lajcak, whose country chairs EU Council meetings for the next six moths, added: “Once a candidate country delivers on the necessary commitments, the EU moves it forward.”
The EU enlargement commissioner, Austria’s Johannes Hahn, said that when German and French leaders met counterparts from the Western Balkans in Paris last month they confirmed that EU expansion in the region was still their “strategic goal”.
Monday’s meeting saw the opening of chapters 23 and 24 of the EU legal codex, on judiciary and fundamental rights, and on justice, freedom and security.
The decision came after the opening of chapters 35 and 32 last December, on normalisation of relations with Kosovo and on financial controls on spending of EU funds.
Hahn said four more chapters could follow this year: on public procurement (chapter five), industry and enterprise (20), science and research (25), and education and culture (26).
"There should not be the slightest doubt about our strong commitment to welcoming Serbia in the EU family, where it belongs," Hahn said.
Vucic, the Serbian PM, said the fact the UK, a leading supporter of EU expansion, was to leave the bloc changed nothing in terms of the EU’s attractiveness.
He said the UK decision was based on “emotions, not [its] strategic path”.
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