Government hopes for progress on accession during EU presidency
Ireland hopes to move a number of countries closer towards EU membership during its EU presidency, Minister of State for Europe Lucinda Creighton has said.
The Minister said she hoped a date could be agreed on when accession talks could begin with Serbia. She also wants to see two new policy areas of discussions opened with Montenegro.
Talks on EU enlargement will be held at a meeting today of Europe ministers in Dublin. Ministers from the countries that have begun EU membership talks – Serbia, Montenegro, Turkey, Macedonia, Iceland and Croatia – will attend the meeting.
Ms Creighton yesterday held bilateral discussions with countries that want to start negotiations on EU membership, including Albania, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
She said Albania was getting closer to starting accession talks but needed to introduce more reforms.
“We are hoping we can agree a date to open accession negotiations with Serbia,” she said.
Ms Creighton said she hoped talks would start with Montenegro on economic and monetary policy and education policy during the Irish presidency.
“I was very impressed with Montenegro’s minister, who had a clear timetable on reforms. We want to help them and reward them,” she said.
Most of the policy-area discussions with Iceland on EU membership should be finished by the end of the Irish presidency, the Minister said, though they would not include the contentious areas of agriculture and fisheries.
She said discussions with Turkey were difficult because of the issue of Cyprus and visa liberalisation.
She said she had “high hopes” for progressing talks with Macedonia, though there were “complicated negotiations” ongoing with Greece over the name of the country.
EU ministers will today also discuss democratic legitimacy and accountability in the EU. Among the topics to be debated are whether national parliaments should be given a role in holding the European Commission to account over its monitoring of member states’ budgets.
Ministers will also discuss whether introducing EU taxes would encourage electorates to become “actively engaged” in the EU.
They will also examine the direct election of the president of commission and the impact it could have on democratic accountability.
Enlargement Who's next?
Current candidate countries for EU membership are:
Croatia– set to become the 28th EU member on July 1st after applying to join in 2003.
Turkey– applied for membership in 1987 and negotiations started in 2005.
Macedonia– began negotiations in 2005 after applying to join in 2004.
Montenegro– applied in 2008 with candidate status awarded in 2010.
Serbia– applied for membership in 2009 and was made an official candidate in 2011.
Iceland– applied in 2009, negotiations began in 2010.
Countries waiting for candidate status are Albania, which applied for membership in 2009, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is preparing an application for membership.