Vienna/Brussels, 11 December 2012 Press release

Austria in favour of initiating accession negotiations with Macedonia

State Secretary Lopatka speaks at General Affairs Council in Brussels

Brussels, 11 December 2012 – “The time is ripe for the EU to embark on accession negotiations with Macedonia. It would be a mistake if the rapprochement of a country to the EU were to be blocked due to a dispute over a name”, State Secretary Lopatka said during the negotiation of EU expansion at ministerial level. “The European Commission has suggested no fewer than four times to initiate negotiations as Macedonia has taken all the preliminary steps that were required. If we continue to procrastinate, the EU will lose its credibility and the states of Southeast Europe will lose faith in the necessity of further reforms. We do not want to get caught up in this spiral of negativity. For this reason, I will today speak out in favour of starting negotiations.”

“We welcome the accession of Croatia which will join the EU as its 28th member state on 1 July 2013. However, Austria also wants the other states of the Western Balkans to have a very clear perspective regarding their accession to the EU. We must not allow the EU member states to tire of expansion due to the effects of the financial and economic crisis. We have a responsibility towards our neighbours in Southeast Europe. At the same time, we are of course aware that these states must fulfil their obligations and must not slacken in their reform efforts”, Lopatka summed up the Austrian position.

In addition to the expansion of the EU, the deepening of the Union is also on the agenda, in particular closer cooperation in economic and monetary terms. “The final report of President Van Rompuy on strengthening the economic and monetary union contains concrete proposals that may be implemented fairly quickly and others that constitute medium- to long-term goals. For this reason, Austria demands – as a first step – that proposals that are already on the table regarding the stricter monitoring of national budgets and improved coordination of economic and budgetary measures be ratified and implemented. For the banking sector, Austria is in favour of the swift establishment of a joint European banking supervisory body to ensure that all banks are monitored, sanctioned, and, where required, liquidated by means of a standardised process. Long-term proposals that can only be implemented through an amendment to the Treaty must be comprehensively and openly discussed by a Convention. Our goal is democratic legitimisation by means of improved participation mechanisms on the part of the citizens, the national parliaments and the European Parliament. There must be no more fundamental, far-reaching decisions being taken behind closed doors in future”, the State Secretary concluded.


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