Commission criticized for enlargement errors

Commission criticized for enlargement errors

The European Commission is leaving civil society in the enlargement countries and beyond, MEPs and representatives of think tanks said at a conference on Wednesday (12 October) on the sidelines of the presentation of the annual reports very irrelevanton extension.

The conference “Building democratic resilience in the EU neighborhood took place in Brussels and was jointly organized by the Center for the Study of Democracy, a Bulgarian think tank, and SELDI.net, a think tank from North Macedonia. EURACTIV Bulgaria was media partner of the event.

Viola von Cramon-Taubadel (Greens, Germany) said the biggest problem in the EU’s relationship with the enlargement and neighboring countries is that it fails to reach out on the ground and to civil society, as the European institutions only deal with governments by default had to do.

She said it was even more important at a time when there would be investment.giganticfor post-war reconstruction of Ukraine, and that civil society should be empowered to look at the money and “very likely fraud».

Nobody is paying attention to the situation on the ground in Russia, von Cramon said, referring to a future when Vladimir Putin’s regime is certain to collapse, adding that nobody is preparing for that time by civilizing with society speak.

“strong frustration”

Referring to the Western Balkans, she said the Thessaloniki Summit in 2003 made big promises but failed to deliver, resulting in “great frustration“. This leads, she says, to anti-EU attitudes that “extremely dangerous».

Albania and Kosovo, where pro-EU sentiment remains high, are the only exceptions in the region. For the first time there are more people in Serbia who are critical of the EU and support Russia, but the EU is doing little to debunk pro-Russian narratives.

Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield (Greens, France) said it was clear to the civil society she works with that the Commission was not doing enough to uphold EU values. She agreed with Mrs von Cramon that the EU’s approach “high level to high levelThis neglects local authorities and civil society.

As an example, she cited Brexit, in which the EU had not communicated before the referendum and had completely neglected civil society.

«If the EU does not respond to the absurd lies, it is not playing its role“, She said.

She added that the same mistake was repeated when the EU was working on a trade deal with the UK where there was no dialogue with civil society.

The fact that the EUdon’t concern themselves with their own problemson the rule of law with regard to Hungary does not help.

«We legalize 10 years misuse of EU fundsShe commented on the EU preparations to release European funds to Hungary.

Ms Delbos-Corfield said the EU should do more to support independent media within the bloc and among its neighbors, which she said would be effective.a solution“The problem, however, is helping independent media to reach the population, because even in Hungary they exist, but their reach is limited.

This situation, she said, allows Hungarian propaganda to spread a message about the risk of young Hungarians being sent to fight in Ukraine.

«It was an outright lie, but we didn’t answer. We’ll just go to the government and say please stop this. It doesn’t works,” she said.

Mrs Delbos-Corfield was very critical of the Commission’s report on Montenegro, which she felt was just as negative as the one on Serbia. “This is not the reality. Are we helping those who are struggling?She said.

A cultural and religious divide?

She added that she felt the EU was more interested in Christian-majority countries and less in countries.”rather muslimReferring to Albania, Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

When asked about it, she said the problem also stems from “the presence of a Hungarian Enlargement Commissioner who embodies this crusade for Christian values“and added that there is a”bigger problem».

Dusan Reljic, head of the Brussels office of the German Society for International Politics and Security, said the Western Balkans’ economic fundamentals explained the dire situation.

Citing Eurostat, Mr Reljic said that the entire Western Balkans region had a lower GDP than Slovakia after 30 years of post-communist development. And 50% of this GDP is produced by Serbia. 70% of trade in the Western Balkans comes from the EU, as does most foreign direct investment, but FDI laws in the Netherlands, for example, favor opaque investment, he added.

«Investments from the Netherlands come from completely different regions; I personally suspect a lot of money is recycled in the area‘ he explained.

In countries like Kosovo, every second euro comes from diaspora flows, said Reljic, who argued that foreign direct investment in the region comes from a “dangerously cheap labour».

“A Situation Close to Slavery”

«In a society where people are poor, they feel that democracy and the EU actually keep them in a situation close to slavery‘ he said, adding: ‘the only thing an ordinary young adult can do is emigrate, and I think Bulgaria and other countries in the region have experienced this extensively“. According to him, about a quarter of the Balkan population has emigrated in the last quarter century.

«In 2019, every two minutes, a Western Balkan citizen received an EU residence permit for a period of more than three monthssaid Mr. Relijic.

«Commission reports – formerly known as progress reports but no longer – are of little relevance to the situation on the groundadded Mr. Reljic.

According to him, the residents of the region have nothing to do with Russian or Chinese propaganda.

«They get their news from state television and it’s kind of a sterilized atmosphere that’s projected onto them, where it’s said everything is fine, the factories are open. And that Mr. Vucic kisses Mr. Scholz again, Mr. Rama is Mrs. Merkel’s darling and Mrs. von der Leyen pays a big compliment to the region for her fight against corruption.‘ he explained.

The speakers presented the reportGeopolitics, state conquest and top corruption. What next for the fight against corruption in the Western Balkans?which focuses on the dynamics of the scale of corruption and state capture in the Western Balkans.

Reference: www.euractiv.fr

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