On 13 December 2017 Szabolcs Takács, Minister of State for EU Affairs at the Prime Minister’s Office had talks with Maciej Popowski, Deputy Director-General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission.

At the meeting the parties reviewed the latest events of the Western Balkans, the region’s significance in terms of the security of the European Union and the management of the migration crisis, and the situations and challenges of the individual countries in the enlargement process.

The parties agreed that the Western Balkans plays a key role in Europe’s security, and the stability of the neighbouring region is a fundamental interest of both Hungary and the European Union. Mr Takács stressed that one of the most important means to achieve this is by making the European perspective a realistic option, and to this end there is a need for developing an authentic EU Western Balkans strategy. At the same time, this does not mean that the countries of the region need not continue the reforms they have embarked upon with full commitment and take further measures in order to meet the criteria of accession. Another precondition of entry is for the candidate countries to settle their bilateral conflicts before their accession. Maciej Popowski highlighted that enlargement policy has evidently been given a new impetus: this is supported by the Commission’s Western Balkans strategy to be released next February, the Western Balkans summit planned by the Bulgarian Presidency and the country reports to be published in April.

Mr Takács stressed that Hungary, together with the V4 countries, is a committed supporter of the EU accession of the Western Balkans countries. The parties agreed that the progress of the candidate countries’ accession must be assessed on the basis of their performance. In Mr Takács’s view, one of our most important tasks is to also convince the Member States that are less in favour of the enlargement of the EU that the European integration of the Western Balkans is Europe’s common interest.

(Prime Minister’s Office)