Brussels, 17 March 2010
Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy visits the Western Balkans region
Štefan FÜLE , European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy will pay an official visit to the Western Balkans region from 17 to 19 March. During his trip to the region, Commissioner Füle will visit Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Albania.
Before his departure Commissioner Füle stated: ''I want to firmly anchor the Western Balkans region in the European perspective. But each country will be judged on its own merits, according to the membership criteria. I will discuss with my interlocutors in these countries which are the best ways in which the European Commission can support the realisation of their European aspiration''.
Since the Feira European Council of 2000 all the Western Balkans countries have the prospect of EU accession. The Thessaloniki Summit in 2003 reiterated that the future of the Western Balkans is within the European Union.
The framework for the EU's relations with the Western Balkans is the Stabilisation and Association Process, set up in 1999. This process sets out the EU's overall approach towards the Western Balkans in view of their future EU accession. Its key features are Stabilisation and Association Agreements (SAA), regular political and technical dialogue, Accession/European Partnerships identifying short and medium priorities in view of accession, participation in EU Programmes, financial support and people-to-people contacts.
Amongst the potential candidates, Montenegro and Albania have applied for membership and, following a request from Council, the Commission is working on the Opinions on the applications. Serbia applied for EU membership on 22 December 2009. Bosnia and Herzegovina signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement in June 2008 which will enter into force once its ratification process has been completed.