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DAILY SURVEY 09.01.2018.
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SERBIA

EUROPEAN COMMISSION: NEW MEMBERS TO JOIN EU BASED ON MERIT ALONE

BRUSSELS, 8 January 2018 (Beta) - The European Commission (EC) made clear on Jan. 8 that the Western Balkans would join the European Union (EU) one by one, based on merit alone, but that all Western European partners could count on equal support for their reforms and efforts to join the Union. Margaritis Schinas, the EC chief spokesperson, said at a regular briefing that the EC president, Jean-Claude Juncker, had repeated his words at a recent meeting with Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, and that it would be a theme for Juncker and the EU commissioners to discuss with the Bulgarian EU presidency leaders in Sofia, on Jan. 11. Schinas was answering the questions of whether the EC noted the concern the Bulgarian sources at the EU Council had shared with reporters, that the Western Balkans' accession to the EU might lose momentum, and whether the EC had in mind the time when new members, Serbia and Montenegro, could join the Union. The EC spokesperson said in the next eight or nine months the EC and the EU would decide "how to treat each Western Balkan state individually." "It's a process based on merit alone," Juncker's spokesperson said, adding that "the resolve is there, as well as a perspective, the will is there, and the political atmosphere exists." "We do welcome the fact that the Bulgarian EU presidency announced a meeting between the EU and Western Balkan leaders to take place in Sofia, next May, and that the purpose of the meeting was to underline this," the EC spokesperson said. When asked by reporters in what measure the enlargement process was a technical matter, and in what measure it was political, and if the EU and the EC could encourage the Bulgarian EU presidency to increase the momentum, Schinas said that the answer would be clearer after the EC president and commissioners had discussed all the themes of Bulgaria's EU presidency over the next six months, at their meeting in Sofia.

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