The EU enlargement package was adopted by the EU Commission on 9 November. This week, the conclusions will be discussed and adopted at the General Affairs Council (GAC).

It’s clear that enlargement remains one of the EU’s most powerful instruments for peace, stability and development. Sweden supports a credible enlargement process based on conditionality and the principle of ‘own merits’.

“It’s important to have a persistent and long term perspective on the enlargement issue, with clear conditions and based on our principles. This needs to remain high up on the EU agenda,” says Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström.

Now it’s important that the GAC conclusions this week reassure all enlargement countries of their EU perspective.

The EU therefore must remain engaged at all levels.

The enlargement countries on their part need to show stronger determination in addressing important key challenges, such as rule of law, fundamental rights including freedom of expression and media, economic development, and key political and democratic reforms.

The geopolitical challenges risk undermining EU integration and stability in the Western Balkans.

Therefore, the expectations on alignment to the common foreign and security policy must be realised by the countries of the Western Balkans.

Sweden will clearly support increased cooperation between the EU and the Western Balkans on anti-radicalisation and counter-terrorism.

In addition, stronger regional cooperation is of key importance, not least in light of recent tensions in bilateral relations among countries in the Western Balkans, but also to effectively handle challenges related to migration.