European Partnerships under the Stabilisation and Association Process

Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, everything that Mr Lagendijk and Mrs Pack have said actually militates against the adoption of the Lagendijk report. I personally will not be voting for it; not because I think that Mr Lagendijk"s report is a bad one, but what sort of a parliament is it that attacks the Council and the Commission over their proposals and then says, fine, but because we are a parliament we will vote for them? I, for one, will not be voting in favour, and I say that because I believe that, although the arguments put forward by Mrs Pack and Mr Lagendijk are valid, an instrument has been dreamt up here without any real foundations.I can well imagine that something could be made of the European Partnerships, but clear objectives and criteria need to be set. However, the present proposal at least contains nothing of the kind. I hope that Commissioner Verheugen will push for that, as I am assuming that he will play a key role in the new Commission – he certainly deserves to – and I assume that he will also have a corresponding influence in ensuring that the European Partnerships become an instrument based on clear criteria. My recommendation, which was not accepted by the committee, was that the Stabilisation and Association Agreements should be successfully implemented over a period of years. Successfully, mind you, not just any old how!My visit to Kosovo as part of the delegation led by Mrs Pack made a lasting impression on me. That impression is that neither the Albanian side nor the Serbian side have come under enough pressure to do what they ought to do – to work together for the future of Kosovo. That impression also applies to several other countries. But Croatia, both under the previous administration and under the present government, is an exception to that, because they have grasped what is at stake and also wish to move forward accordingly.The Commission and we in this House bear a certain part of the blame for this situation, and we should endeavour to ensure that Europe"s voice is heard more clearly and distinctly.Our meeting with President Rugova was symbolic of this. I have a high regard for him and have known him for a long time, although not so well as Mrs Pack does, but I have a very good relationship with him. But when we visited his official residence – and I know that we are only talking about Kosovo and not yet an independent state – Albanian, Kosovan and American flags were flying, but not a European flag, and nobody seemed to think anything of it. What does that say about Europe"s voice, I wonder? We will be taking him a European flag in the hope that it will find a place at his residence.He is not the only one, however, to whom this applies, and this is in no way intended to be a personal criticism. I believe that just as Europe is not represented amongst the flags flying at his residence, Europe"s views are unrepresented or at least underrepresented in many parts of the Balkans. The Council, the Commission and Parliament must work together to make our voice more widely heard.Commissioner Verheugen, if we are debating this in a year"s time and you can convince me that the European Partnership has achieved this much, or has at least made progress in that direction, then I will support the Lagendijk report retrospectively, but I shall not be voting for it tomorrow.