The European Commission will soon propose that the EU allocate more money to countries that want to join and offer them access to the single market to speed up preparations for membership.
This was stated by EU Commissioner for Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi, Reuters reports.
Eight countries currently have official candidate status in the EU - Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine - and two, Georgia and Kosovo, are potential candidate countries.
"In a couple of weeks time you will see us presenting a new way of thinking about enlargement and a package that will now include 10 candidate countries, or countries with a European perspective," Varhelyi said after a meeting in Spain of EU ministers discussing how the EU should prepare to welcome new members.
According to him, the EU wants to provide funds for accelerated integration.
Varhelyi said the EU will seek to help candidates prepare for EU membership more quickly through a Western Balkans growth plan to narrow the "economic and social gap" between these countries and the rest of the EU before accession.
Under the scheme, the countries will gradually gain access to the EU's single market of 450 million consumers, where goods, services, labor, and capital can move freely even before they become full EU members.
"We want to create the opportunity to gradually integrate these countries into the single market, into the four freedoms, already before accession, because this will be for the benefit of both the European Union and for the candidate countries," Varhelyi said.-
He said the European Commission's proposal would also call for more EU money for the candidates to help speed up the reforms needed to join the 27-nation bloc. The possible amounts are not specified.
The money would come in addition to existing EU pre-accession assistance to candidate countries, which amounts to €14.2 billion in the 2021-2027 EU budget.
These measures will demonstrate that the EU is ready to welcome new members and hold the candidate countries responsible for taking full advantage of these opportunities, Varhelyi said.
Author – Anastasiya Glotova, 29/09/2023