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EU enlargement report calls for more efforts from candidate nations

The European Union released a progress report on candidate nations for EU membership on Tuesday, urging them for more efforts in reforms and the fight against corruption.

The annual report, which covers the whole process of enlargement, urges Turkey and the western Balkan nations for speedy reforms in order to gain EU membership. The report called on Turkey to renew the momentum of political reforms to meet EU standards. For Croatia, the report said “considerable challenges in meeting political criteria remain” in key areas, such as its inefficient judicial system, public administration and “widespread” corruption. In economy, “rising external imbalances can become a risk” for the country, the report said. Accession talks for Turkey and Croatia began two years ago. Another Balkan candidate, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, faces both political and economic challenges in joining the EU.

“Continuing political tensions in the country are delaying reforms,” the report said. The report also noted high unemployment in the country, saying accession talks with Macedonia are not likely to begin before 2009,which dashed hopes of the Macedonian government to begin the talks in 2008. The country, which was officially made a candidate for joining the bloc in 2005, has been asked to do more in fighting organized crime and corruption. When presenting the report, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn also referred to other major challenges such as the Kosovo status process, Serbia’s democratic development and state building in Bosnia and Herzegovina. (xinhuanet)