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Monday, July 4, 2022

EU enlargement is key to Europe’s future

By: V4 Agency

The enlargement of the European Union is the key to Europe’s future, Hungarian Minister of Justice Judit Varga said at an international Conference on the Future of Europe in Budapest titled Dialogue on the Future of Europe – Is enlargement a key to the future?”

Minister Varga said that the enlargement of the EU is of paramount importance for the Hungarian government. Europe needs to realise that the Western Balkan region is a part of “the European family” geographically, historically and also economically, the minister emphasized at the conference organised by her ministry and the Ferenc Madl Institute of Comparative Law.

Judit Varga stated that the EU had been plagued by several crises in recent years, to which Brussels had not always been able to give an adequate response, deciding all too often that centralisation was the answer, omitting thoughtful and honest consultation with member states, who are the basis of the EU.

“Hungarians, however, have always considered Europe’s true strength to lie in the diversity of its member states and not in false utopias,”

the minister underlined, adding that there is no European Union without the various national constitutional identities.

Europe must, therefore, return to the path of reason and needs to realise that strong nation states are not the problem, but are part of the solution, she remarked.

Ms Varga called on Brussels to stop its practice of alienating member states, adding that “the time has finally come to welcome new countries into our community and build a stronger EU with stronger nations.”

Central European countries have already experienced that “the path of accession is sometimes bumpy,” she pointed out. The “overgrown” bureaucracy in Brussels can sometimes slow down key processes, she said, noting that even the political will to admit new members was completely absent during the term of the Juncker Commission. The minister, however, added that it is a welcome new development that stability in the Western Balkans has become a priority for the von der Leyen Commission.

Hungary has consistently been a committed supporter of EU enlargement, an excellent example of which is the accession talks with Croatia, which were concluded during Hungary’s EU presidency in 2011. Hungary also supports a number of projects in the Western Balkans through the International Visegrad Fund, she said.

Judit Varga highlighted that since 2019, Hungary’s Oliver Varhelyi has been Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement. His determination and expertise is a guarantee that the EU continues to remain truly open towards its partners in the Western Balkans.

To maintain its credibility, the EU should actually deliver on its previous promises, the minister stressed.

As she said Hungary has no doubts that the EU should recognise the efforts candidate countries have made and should indeed fulfil its obligations to proceed with the accession procedure. Hungary’s position is clear; Prime Minister Viktor Orban also placed particular emphasis on enlargement policy in his speech on the future of Europe, she recalled.

Accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia should begin without delay, the minister said, adding that similar negotiations with Serbia and Montenegro are also needed before the end of this year. As also emphasized by the Hungarian government, the EU has a greater interest in Serbia’s membership than Serbia itself does, so the country should be accepted into the EU as soon as possible, Judit Varga pointed out.

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