The European Parliament’s (EP) evaluation on the accession process of both Iceland and Macedonia is well balanced, Minister of State for EU Affairs, Enikő Győri, said at the EP’s plenary meeting on 6 April 2011, in Strasbourg. However, in the case of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, she urged for greater efforts, and promoted the start of accession negotiations.
Speaking on behalf of the Hungarian Presidency, Minister of State for EU Affairs, Enikő Győri, informed members of the European Parliament (EP) about the accession process of Iceland and the FYROM, in Strasbourg on 6 April 2011. She stressed that enlargement is one of the most successful policies of the European Union (EU), and also a priority for the Hungarian Presidency.
FYROM: special attention to the earlier elections needed
The State Minister welcomed the European Parliament, for providing a well-balanced evaluation, on the accession process of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), and highlighted the valuable recommendations made in the document. “I am satisfied to see that the main message of the European Parliament’s draft position overlaps with one of the Presidency’s fundamental principles, the EU must acknowledge the individual merits of candidate countries,” Ms Győri said. She added, “It is regretful to say that despite the merits and progress of candidate countries, the FYROM has not yet started accession negotiations with the Union.”
Even today, you can identify several deficiencies in the country. For example, in the field of dialogue between political actors, the reform of public administration and justice, or the assurance of the freedom of expression; however, Ms Győri especially highlighted the development of good neighbourhood relations. The issue receives special focus, the country’s naming dispute with Greece since 1991 has practically been impeding the European integration of FYROM. At the same time, speaking on behalf of the Presidency, the State Minister insisted that the settlement of this debate should not slow down the reforms that are in progress, in the country.
According to Ms Győri, the Union should pay special attention to the planned earlier elections, since the existing government coalition is stable, even despite the temporal political uncertainties. “We would be extremely worried, if the next elections cause a fault line to appear on the political map,” the Minister of State stressed. Nevertheless, Ms Győri called on the leaders of the FYROM to make stronger efforts to advance, and to meet the expectations, set up by themselves and among their own citizens.
Iceland: Presidency to open as many chapters as possible in June
“Iceland has a long-running democracy with strong institutions and tight EU relations,” Győri said. Broadly speaking, Iceland has long been engaged in the integration process, it is a founding member of NATO, a member of the Council of Europe, the European Economic Area (EEA), the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and the Schengen Area. Therefore, the island country was officially awarded the EU candidate state status, on 17 June 2010, exactly eleven months after its application for accession.
Ms Győri explained that the so-called “screening” process, launched in November 2010, is going according to plans. As a part of this process, the EU identifies fields where the norm systems of candidate countries and the EU, requires approximation. The Presidency plans for the next ministerial accession conference, to take place on 27 June. “This will enable us to look at all of the results and hopefully, to open as many chapters as possible,” Ms Győri underlined.
Although the country came to face an extremely difficult situation in the wake of the crisis, Ms Győri believes, “Iceland can be considered as a functioning market economy, and in the mid run, the country can recover its ability to cope with increased competition in the single market, and market forces.”
Ms Győri spoke highly of the EP’s draft position, which “Gives a comprehensive picture of the results achieved, and the challenges ahead.” In this context, Ms Győri underlined that the Presidency is counting on the help from both the European Commission and the European Parliament, and called for the correct and detailed information, from both EU and Icelandic citizens, a common task.