Wednesday, 19 September 2018 | News today: 19

Juncker: EU and Western Balkans have shared future

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There are no fixed dates over the EU accession of the Western Balkan countries, said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Tuesday.

“Just under two weeks ago I returned from a tour around the Western Balkans. It was a memorable trip for many reasons. What struck me the most was the passion and conviction in the European Union. This gave me a renewed sense of belief and hope: that if a region, a dramatic region like the Western Balkans is so determined to reform from top to bottom in order to join our Union, then we must be a Union worth being part of. The Western Balkans clearly see much more in us than we ourselves see in our Union. I want to see this same belief in our Union across all 27 Member States,” Juncker said in a speech at a plenary session of the European Parliament.

He added there is a great deal of work to be done.

“All bilateral conflicts must be resolved and more unity is needed. Each of the Western Balkan partners must continue their reform path, especially when it comes to the rule of law and fundamental freedoms and values. As I said to all leaders in the region, there will be no fast-tracking. We will put substance over speed. Each case will be taken on its own merits with no fixed dates or firm deadlines. But I came back from the trip more convinced than ever that this is our shared future. It is about reconciling our history and geography,” underlined Juncker.