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David Lidington

Minister for Europe, London

Part of FCDO Outreach

15th July 2013 London, UK

EU enlargement – now for the next steps

It is now a fortnight since Croatia was officially welcomed into the European Union. The cafes are back to normal in Ban Jelacic Square, the firework smoke is long gone, and from now on I will be sitting down alongside twenty-seven, not twenty-six, other member states at the General Affairs Council.

I look forward to working with my Croatian colleagues as we tackle the challenges ahead. Croatia’s voice – and vote – will be very important as we discuss reforms that can bring more growth, jobs and prosperity to Europe.

Croatia has moved on – and the process has had a transformative effect on the country. But, as the June European Council made clear, enlargement does not stop here.

By January next year, accession negotiations will have opened with Serbia, and the Council has also given the green light for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with Kosovo.

Three weeks ago in Brussels, Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to the work of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton in this process.

Of course, there is still much more to do, including the immediate implementation of the agreement to normalise relations between Serbia and Kosovo reached in April.

The SAA will be the first contractual agreement between the EU and Kosovo – an agreement which will enable both sides to work together to bring Kosovo closer politically and economically to the EU, and the very first step in achieving Kosovo’s own European future.

So I welcome both these developments, and I welcome the recognition of a future, for both countries, within the EU.

My hope is that others will see this as an opportunity to reinvigorate their own efforts to make progress towards EU accession.

The UK stands ready to help.  Extending EU membership to Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, once they meet the conditions for membership, will make a significant contribution to Europe’s stability and prosperity.

These are goals that are achievable, as Croatia’s example shows – and I look forward to welcoming new members to the club.

It is clear to me that the enlargement process, with its rigorous approach, is driving a change for the better on the EU’s doorstep and helping economies realise their full potential.  Now more than ever, it is vital that we keep up the pace.

About David Lidington

David Lidington MP was appointed Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office on 14 May 2010. David Lidington was elected to Parliament in 1992 and is the Member…

David Lidington MP was appointed Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office on 14 May 2010.
David Lidington was elected to Parliament in 1992 and is the Member of Parliament for Aylesbury.
He worked for BP and RTZ before spending three years as Special Advisor to Douglas Hurd in the Home Office and Foreign Office.
His proudest political achievement was successfully promoting a
Private Members Bill which became the Chiropractors Act in 1994. He
believes that this piece of legislation has made a real difference to
many people’s lives.
He has a long standing passion for history, and has twice captained a
champion team on University Challenge, first in 1979 and then in 2002
when the Sidney Sussex team became “champion of champions” in University
Challenge Reunited.
He is married to Helen Lidington and has four sons.