Pahor urges consensus on EU enlargement

Brdo pri Kranju – The EU’s enlargement to its eastern neighbourhood dominated the opening session of the conference of EU parliamentary speakers at Brdo estate on Monday with President Borut Pahor arguing the EU should reach a consensus on how to speed up accession talks while preserving safeguards in terms of fulfilment of criteria and rules.

Due to the war in Ukraine, the enlargement issue has become the question of the EU’s enlargement to its eastern neighbourhood, Pahor said, noting the vital geopolitical importance of the process.

While enlargement to Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Turkey and the Western Balkans is essential to preserve the peace, security and prosperity of the whole of Europe, Pahor said the question was how to build a consensus on such an enlargement that would be fast and successful enough, something the current procedures did not make it possible.

Pahor admitted forming such a consensus will be a difficult job, but he said it was also a great opportunity. There was no other choice but to patiently come to an agreement on an enlargement strategy that would speed up the talks while keeping safeguards in terms of the candidate countries respecting the criteria and rules.

He called for involving the national parliaments of the member states and the European Parliament in that discussion.

Pahor welcomed the West’s fast, united and effective response to the war in Ukraine. He also underscored the importance of strengthening democracy and of proving that democracy is effective and there is no need to resort to autocratic solutions to successfully solve own problems and the problems of the modern world.

Roberta Metsola, the president of the European Parliament, told the conference it was important for the EU to secure the prospect of membership to Ukraine and that Ukraine should become an EU candidate country. She also urged monitoring the situation in the Western Balkans, Georgia and Moldova in particular; the EU should help these countries on the path of their dreams and European perspective.

Igor Zorčič, the speaker of the Slovenian National Assembly, argued the EU should step up the enlargement process to remain a factor of stability and security in the region. Parliaments would play an important role in those processes by providing key political support to the countries concerned.

The conference resumed with a panel debate on the role of parliaments in crisis situations and on enhancing responsibility for democratic management. The keynote speakers there are Alojz Kovšca, the speaker of the upper chamber of the Slovenian parliament, as well as Speaker of the Spanish Parliament Meritxell Batet Lamana, Italian Deputy Chamber Speaker Roberto Fico and Marshal of the Polish Senate Tomasz Grodzki.

On the sidelines of the two-day conference, Metsola met Prime Minister Janez Janša for discussion focusing on the situation in Ukraine. The PM’s office said they agreed the EU should stay united in response to Russia’s aggression.