Fidesz MEPs and Olivér Várhelyi, the commissioner for neighbourhood and enlargement, have called for the enlargement of the European Union as a key measure to ensure the bloc’s security.
Fidesz MEP Kinga Gál told the European Parliament’s plenary session that strategic enlargement on the Western Balkans was vital to long-term energy security and to handling the migration crisis. “The politicised tightening of conditions to EU integration is sending the wrong message, and may sway candidate countries like Serbia,” she said.
Meanwhile, she welcomed an agreement between Austria, Bulgaria and Hungary last week on turning illegal migrants back from the external borders. Gál also slammed the proposal to scrap the condition of unanimity in EU decision-making, saying it would severely infringe on the sovereignty of smaller states.
Fidesz MEP Andor Deli said the EU “can’t afford to put off the integration of the Western Balkans any longer.” He insisted the European Parliament’s decisions had contributed to weakening the EU’s influence in the region. The EU will not increase trust and influence by making conditions to integration stricter, he said. The conditionality mechanism, which links EU funding to adherence to the rule of law, “is based on faulty logic” and should not be extended to new cases for accession, he said.
“Serbia and other Western Balkans countries need genuine support and an accession date, rather than EP decisions like this one,” he said. The decisions before the body will hamper rather than aid enlargement and the EC’s work, he said.
Várhelyi called enlargement the “most effective tool of EU foreign policy, a key contributor to the continent’s security.” EU unity and good relations with neighbours are indispensable in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he said. The bloc’s enlargement strategy should be adapted to the situation, and allow accession to proceed if the candidate countries are fulfilling requirements, he said.