A priority of low salience

Although enlarge­ment is one of the five pri­or­i­ties of the Bel­gian Pres­i­den­cy, it was not much dis­cussed dur­ing the report­ing peri­od. Dur­ing its Pres­i­den­cy, Bel­gium intends to be an “hon­est bro­ker”, i.e., by try­ing to find a con­sen­sus on enlarge­ment and by try­ing to accel­er­ate the rhythm of domes­tic reforms with­in can­di­date coun­tries in mat­ters such as democ­ra­cy and peace.11Report on the pri­or­i­ties of the Bel­gian EU Pres­i­den­cy, Sen­ate and House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, 17 March 2010, doc. n° 4–1606/6 (Sénat).

In gen­er­al, the posi­tion of Bel­gium is that each can­di­date should respect the EU cri­te­ria and all should be treat­ed equi­tably on the basis of their own mer­its by the EU insti­tu­tions.

The next enlarge­ment round is expect­ed to be com­posed of Croa­t­ia and Ice­land. The for­mer is con­sid­ered as hav­ing made good progress in terms of imple­ment­ing the acquis com­mu­nau­taire and the lat­ter already respects all the polit­i­cal cri­te­ria, but faces an eco­nom­ic cri­sis.22De Mor­gen, 24 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: www.demorgen.be (last access: 8 May 2010).

Con­cern­ing the oth­er can­di­date coun­tries, the Bel­gian Prime Min­is­ter declared that the Balka­ns’ future resides in the Euro­pean Union and that all those coun­tries should, in the long run, enter the EU. He argued that for Ser­bia it would be a long run process, espe­cial­ly because it first has to solve the issue of Kosovo’s recog­ni­tion. He promised that Bel­gium would try to find a con­sen­sus by the end of 2010 to grant Mon­tene­gro the sta­tus of can­di­date coun­try, but stressed that it is very impor­tant, for Mon­tene­gro but also for Alba­nia, to imple­ment impor­tant reforms and respect the con­di­tions for EU adhe­sion. He also insist­ed on the impor­tance, for the sta­bil­i­ty and inte­gra­tion of the Balka­ns, that Koso­vo one day become a mem­ber of the EU, although, for the above-men­tioned coun­tries, it would take time and no time­line was set.33De Stan­daard, 17 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: www.standaard.be (last access: 6 May 2010); De Mor­gen, 21 Decem­ber 2009; De Mor­gen, 16 Feb­ru­ary 2010; De Mor­gen, 9 March 2010, all avail­able at: www.demorgen.be (last access: 8 May 2010).

Bel­gium will encour­age the pur­suit of the reforms in Turkey but all can­di­dates should meet the required cri­te­ria in terms of acquis com­mu­nau­taire, good gov­er­nance and human rights. If this proves to be impos­si­ble, a sui gener­is form of col­lab­o­ra­tion will be nec­es­sary.44Report on the pri­or­i­ties of the Bel­gian EU Pres­i­den­cy, Sen­ate and House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, 17 March 2010, doc. n° 4–1606/6 (Sénat); De Mor­gen, 21 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.demorgen.be (last access: 8 May 2010).

Final­ly, as far as the East­ern Part­ner­ship is con­cerned, Bel­gium stressed its impor­tance in the frame­work of the Euro­pean Neigh­bour­hood Pol­i­cy. The Sec­re­tary of State for Euro­pean Affairs, Olivi­er Chas­tel, high­light­ed the large poten­tial of this part­ner­ship both for the Euro­pean Union and the part­ner coun­tries (Ukraine, Belarus, Moldo­va, Azer­bai­jan, Arme­nia and Geor­gia), and declared that Bel­gium is ready to envis­age offer­ing help or exper­tise in spe­cif­ic domains in order to ensure a suc­cess­ful imple­men­ta­tion of the East­ern Part­ner­ship.55Olivi­er Chas­tel réaf­firme la posi­tion de la Bel­gique à pro­pos du parte­nar­i­at ori­en­tal, press release, 2 March 2010, avail­able at: http://diplomatie.belgium.be (last access: 20 May 2010).

    Footnotes

  • 1Report on the pri­or­i­ties of the Bel­gian EU Pres­i­den­cy, Sen­ate and House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, 17 March 2010, doc. n° 4–1606/6 (Sénat).
  • 2De Mor­gen, 24 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: www.demorgen.be (last access: 8 May 2010).
  • 3De Stan­daard, 17 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: www.standaard.be (last access: 6 May 2010); De Mor­gen, 21 Decem­ber 2009; De Mor­gen, 16 Feb­ru­ary 2010; De Mor­gen, 9 March 2010, all avail­able at: www.demorgen.be (last access: 8 May 2010).
  • 4Report on the pri­or­i­ties of the Bel­gian EU Pres­i­den­cy, Sen­ate and House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, 17 March 2010, doc. n° 4–1606/6 (Sénat); De Mor­gen, 21 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: www.demorgen.be (last access: 8 May 2010).
  • 5Olivi­er Chas­tel réaf­firme la posi­tion de la Bel­gique à pro­pos du parte­nar­i­at ori­en­tal, press release, 2 March 2010, avail­able at: http://diplomatie.belgium.be (last access: 20 May 2010).

The reports focus on a report­ing peri­od from Decem­ber 2009 until May 2010. This sur­vey was con­duct­ed on the basis of a ques­tion­naire that has been elab­o­rat­ed in March and April 2010. Most of the 31 reports were deliv­ered in May 2010.

The EU-27 Watch No. 9 receives sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from the Otto Wolff-Foun­da­tion, Cologne, in the frame­work of the ‘Dia­log Europa der Otto Wolff-Stiftung’, and finan­cial sup­port from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is not respon­si­ble for any use that may be made of the infor­ma­tion con­tained there­in.