Thursday, 18 November 2021
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
216. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which candidate countries for European Union membership continue to receive support for their cause; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56792/21]
Ireland has always been, and will remain, a strong supporter of enlargement of the European Union, provided that candidate countries meet the necessary conditions for membership. We recognise the value of enlargement as a transformative driver for stability and peace in candidate countries. It was welcome that the draft Declaration adopted at the EU-Western Balkans Summit this year contained a clear signal of the continuing priority afford by the EU to the Enlargement dossier and to achieving early progress in advancing the accession process.
Serbia and Montenegro, which remain front-runners in terms of EU accession, both need to increase the dynamism in their reform agenda.
Both North Macedonia and Albania have clearly fulfilled the conditions necessary to commence accession negotiations. In our view, the negotiating frameworks for both countries should be agreed and Intergovernmental Conferences held as soon as possible to start the accession process.
Kosovo is a potential candidate for Membership of the EU. The Commission’s report on Kosovo in 2021 noted that the political situation there remains challenging.
The EU has clearly set out the fourteen priority areas for reform which need to be progressed, if Bosnia and Herzegovina is to advance on its European path. The country's leaders now need to respond in pursuing the necessary reforms.
Ireland will continue to support strongly the enlargement process and offer any practical assistance it can to candidate countries engaged in accession negotiations to the EU.