S&Ds: European Union must remain the biggest supporter of political and economic reforms in the candidate countries

Today, the European Parliament committee on foreign affairs voted on the new financial instrument, the so-call Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA III) devoted to support the candidate and potential candidate countries during the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027. 

Being a pro-enlargement Group, The Socialists and Democrats made sure that the pre-accession funds match the needs of candidate countries, by supporting political and economic reforms and preparing them for the rights and obligations that come with EU membership.

Knut Fleckenstein, co-rapporteur on Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance and S&D spokesperson on foreign affairs said:
“The European Union is the biggest supporter of the candidate and potential candidate countries in the Western Balkans also in financial terms. The European Commission proposal to increase the envelope of pre-accession funds in the 2021-2027 budget to €14.5 billion is a good start. However, we expect the EU to be more ambitious as pre-accession funds are a long-term investment into the European future of both the enlargement countries and the EU itself.

“Today we managed to highlight five priorities. We strengthen the social dimension of enlargement policy and made sure that IPA funds are disbursed in a non-discriminatory way, reaching all the regions and not being distributed by governments according to political interest.  

“We also strengthened conditionality in order to be able to react to political developments, which allows us to also suspend a country in case of breaches in human rights or the rule of law. Furthermore, we strengthened European Parliament’s position so that it has a say, when it comes to reviewing the instrument and its beneficiaries. And finally we put the visibility of IPA funding very high on our priority list, in order to raise awareness for the positive impact of EU funding in the regions.”