EU candidates shouldn't be scared of reforms – Lithuanian formin

  • 2024-02-19
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Countries aspiring to join the European Union should not be intimidated by institutional reforms, which, if not achieved, could become obstacles to membership, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday.

According to Landsbergis, it is not necessary to change the procedure for admitting new members to the EU.

"That's not necessary. The Lisbon Treaty provides us with the ability to enlarge. The documents are there. We might need some tweaks, adjustments, whatever, but this should not be a major obstacle. We can and should expand," he said in a panel discussion on enlargement. 

Last December, EU leaders agreed to open membership talks with Ukraine and Moldova and granted them candidate status. This means a years-long accession process which will require major governance reforms and tough negotiations.

"We understand what presses Georgia and Ukraine very well. They are under enormous duress to push on with the reforms," said Landsbergis, adding that the "grueling" requirements can be overcome.

"It is possible to make those steps to overcome the grueling processes. It's not about administrative processes. It's more about the political process. If we allow ourselves to be overburdened by the processes on the Brussels side, that's a geopolitical mistake of the greatest scale," he said.

At the Munich Security Conference, it was discussed whether the process of admitting new members should differ from the EU's previous enlargement and be more dynamic.

Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia applied to join the EU in the wake of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The bloc's leaders last December granted Georgia a "European perspective", means that the country will have to complete certain steps before it can officially become a candidate for EU membership.