Press release, 9 April 2019: Broad European Consensus for Continuing EU Enlargement Process in the Western Balkans

Austrian Parliament, 9 April 2019

Second day of the Conference of the Speakers of European Union Parliaments at the Vienna Konzerthaus

Vienna (PK) - In their Conclusions today, the participants of the Conference of Speakers of European Union Parliaments also declared their support for continuing the EU accession process in the Western Balkans to help bolster security and stability. The EU’s Neighbourhood Policy, in turn, calls on the European Union to engage in a partnership based on adherence to European principles, such as democracy, the rule of law and the protection of fundamental rights and human dignity.

Parliamentary Speakers call on candidate countries to continue reforms

Maintaining accession prospects for the Western Balkan states is an investment in peace, democracy and security, according to the Conclusions, in which the parliamentary Speakers affirmed that strict adherence to the accession criteria forms the basis for the enlargement process. The document called on the Western Balkan states to continue the reform process, overcome remaining conflicts, strengthen regional cooperation and establish good neighbourly relations. The Speakers expressly welcomed the Prespa Agreement between Greece and North Macedonia, which is seen as a model for strengthening good neighbourly relations between other states in the region.

Open dialogue with Turkey as a key partner

The final document referred to Turkey as a key partner and as such expressed the wish for an open dialogue with Ankara and cooperation in important areas of common interest, such as migration, combating terrorism, economic issues and trade. The expectation is for Turkey to make a clear commitment to good neighbourly relations and to existing international agreements.

Final document insists on full implementation of Minsk Agreements

The final document also underlined the importance of the Eastern Dimension of the EU’s Neighbourhood Policy, with the Speakers strongly expressing their support for efforts aimed at finding a sustainable and peaceful solution to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. The document explicitly condemned the violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, reaffirmed the non-recognition of the annexation of Crimea and advocated the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements by all of the concerned parties.

Northern Africa and the Middle East at the centre of the Southern Neighbourhood Policy

The Southern Neighbourhood Policy is a fundamental instrument for promoting peace, stability and security in Northern Africa and the Middle East. The Speakers clearly stated that the numerous common challenges, such as migration flows, climate change or combating terrorism and international crime, can only be met by engaging in intensive regional cooperation.

Call for interreligious dialogue

The Conclusions underlined the importance of the EU institutions’ work in combating all forms of anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and intolerance. In this context, the speakers called on all governmental and non-governmental actors to support dialogue on fundamental rights and common European values, both within and between religious communities, in order to promote mutual respect and tolerance towards different religious traditions and to eliminate prejudices.

The Speakers affirm commitment to subsidiarity and proportionality

The Speakers also declared their clear commitment to the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, with the motto being “doing less, but more efficiently”. Only an EU that concentrates on taking action in areas where the advantages over action at national, regional or local level are clear can build on European citizens’ positive perception of the EU. To that end, the Speakers reaffirmed the importance of subsidiarity monitoring by the national parliaments.

Brexit: Hoping for a negotiated solution

Finally, on the subject of Brexit, the document expresses the wish of the Speakers of European Union parliaments that a negotiated solution can be found regarding the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. (Conclusion) court

PLEASE NOTE: Photos of this event can be found on the Parliament’s website:

Conference of Speakers of the European Union Parliaments