Olivér Várhelyi, Hungary’s nominee for European commissioner, told a hearing in the European Parliament on Thursday that national and European interests need not be considered separately because the common aim is to create a strong and successful community.
The commissioner candidate for enlargement and neighbourhood policy told the foreign affairs committee that serving in his post he would seek to act as a link between the main European institutions and neighbouring countries.
The situation of the European Union’s neighbours has strategic importance for the community and it is therefore important to maintain stability, security and prosperity in these areas, as well as to reduce gaps in their levels of development.
Different targets and approaches are needed for the various partner countries and it is not possible to apply a standard scheme, he added.
Accessions talks must be started with Albania and North Macedonia as soon as possible, as the credibility of the European Union is at stake, Varhelyi said, adding that the possibility of opening an integration process must be given to eligible states.
The EU must be prepared to accept new member states if they meet the requirements, he said, adding that the accession talks must be made more effective.
Várhelyi underlined that, if appointed, he would work towards closing the dialogue between the Serbian and Kosovo governments next year.
The Western Balkans is an integral part of Europe and it is also in the community’s interest to maintain the prospect of accession, he said.
Várhelyi expressed the view that no choice should be made between deepening and widening the European Union.
He called Turkey the EU’s key strategic partner in many areas. This cooperation must be strengthened, while “negative developments in the rule of law and human rights and an increasingly assertive foreign policy in Ankara must not be ignored”, Várhelyi said.
There are close to four million refugees in Turkey, Várhelyi said, urging continued assistance to be provided to that country in catering for them.
Turkey must also be helped in curbing illegal migration, he said.
Ankara is clearly moving away from European values and norms, so plans must be put forward on how future cooperation should be developed with the country, said Varhelyi.