Enlargement Commissioner Varhelyi Presents New Methodology

Candidate countries’ negotiations will become less bureaucratic and more political. Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi believes that that is the essence of the changes with the new methodology presented by him on Wednesday that rests on four pillars: stronger political steer, credibility, a more dynamic process, and predictability for both sides. Varhelyi is of the opinion that they did a good job by including France’s demands in the methodology. So, he expects Tirana and Skopje to get before the Summit in Zagreb or as early as March a date and start negotiations quickly. “This is why we want to involve all the Member States in the monitoring of these achievements. We need them to share their analyses with us so that we avoid any last-minute surprises,” he said. The Commissioner added that such surprises had been seen three times before. “And this is way it should be more inclusive for them. I don’t hide the fact that one of the most difficult issues when we were putting together the package was that it is clear that in our public opinion and in our Member States, there’s a very strong core that we need to be able to reverse also the negotiations when there is no progress or when there is backsliding. Clearly, we also have to apply similar measures, meaning that we have to make it clear that we can also go backwards. So, if countries fail to deliver or do back reforms, on our side, similar actions will be taken when it comes to the accession process,” Varhelyi stated. He presented the methodology in the European Parliament, too, telling MEPs at the Foreign Affairs Committee that what aspirant countries would get predictability. They will get precise deadlines for each of the six clusters, while EU countries will be able to send own experts to evaluate how reforms are taking place on the ground. However, it’s still not clear whether the six clusters will be being opened together or successively. “We first open with the rule of law cluster and we close the entire negotiations with the rule of cluster,” he said.