Croatia has outlined as one of its top priorities during its presidency of the Council of the European Union, continued EU enlargement, specifically with regard to the countries of the Western Balkans.
European Council President Charles Michel has called for an informal meeting with the leaders of the countries of the Western Balkans, to be held on February 16th. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has also been invited to participate in the meeting, representing the currently holder of the presidency of the Council of the European Union.
According to the European Council, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen and High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Josep Borrell will also attend the meeting. The informal meeting has been convened as part of preparations for an informal summit of all EU Member States and the countries of the Western Balkans, to be held in Zagreb on May 6th and 7th.
Over the past five years, similar meetings were organized by former High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, however, this is the first time it will conducted at such a high level, including almost all senior EU officials and representatives.
The meeting will comes just days after the Von der Leyen Commission published its proposal for a new methodology for accession negotiations. On Wednesday the European Commission proposed a new and more rigorous methodology for EU accession negotiations, thereby meeting the ultimatum issued by France. This now should clear the way for Paris to agree to opening negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania.
According to the new methodology, the negotiation chapters are divided into six thematic units or clusters. The six thematic clusters are: fundamentals; internal market; competitiveness and inclusive growth; green agenda and sustainable connectivity; resources, agriculture and cohesion; and external relations. With the exception of the first cluster, which is supposed to be opened first and closed last, the commission does foresee the possibility of opening multiple clusters simultaneously.
The Commission also proposes more decisive measures to sanction any serious or prolonged stagnation or setback in implementing reforms and meeting the requirements of the accession process. Meaning that negotiations in certain areas could be paused, or even completely suspended, and already closed chapters could be reopened.
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