It is the first in a series of clips on this issue.
A credible enlargement policy has never been needed more than today. And yet the EU's pre-accession policy faces two serious challenges to its credibility:
- some EU member states distrust.
The belief that enlargement neither objectively assesses nor credibly motivates sufficient reforms. The concern about a bureaucratic automatism that puts pressure on the EU to integrate weak states and unreformed economies.
- applicant country distrust that the EU is actually fairly assessing reforms.
The sense that whether accession talks or chapters are opened or not is not linked to objective criteria. The fear that the EU seeks to slow down a process arbitrarily, independently of what is being done.
There is a way to address both of these concerns:
- put the emphasis back on real reforms (as opposed to the focus on bureaucratic steps, such as "opening a chapter")
- assess these credibly, rigorously and strictly in a way that is transparent
- encourage debates in applicant countries on the specifics of what needs to be done and on the benefits and costs of various policies - treat citizens in accession countries as indispensable partners. To do so ask yourself when communicating: who can understand you?
To achieve these goals ESI proposes to use a tool that already exists and to make it more effective: the annual progress reports.
We propose four specific reforms to the progress reports:
- make them gripping and readable. Imagine a focus group that needs to be informed and motivated.
- the commission should introduce chapter roadmaps with the "core acquis" that every applicant needs to adapt to join the EU. Use scorecards that allow countries to compare progress on the specific policy level. Define the end goals of reforms clearly and specifically. All this should be public.
- Political criteria and chapter 23: use much clearer language when it comes to describing shortcomings. Focus on what is unacceptable when it comes to the political criteria: and explain why. Focus on red lines that cannot be crossed.
- Economic criteria: these sections of the reports are currently incomprehensible. Rewrite these completely. Focus them on the big issues of convergence policy: employment. ability to export. ability to attract investment. human capital.
This clip focuses on the progress reports and scorecard idea. Presentations on the political and economic criteria to follow.