The Eastern Europe Studies Center, in partnership with the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Lithuania’s Permanent Representation to the EU, organized a high-level panel titled “Assessing the Enlargement Policy: Geopolitical, Methodological, and Practical Aspects.” The panel featured key figures such as Lithuanian Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Jovita Neliupšienė, EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi, Minister for European Affairs of Finland Mr Anders Adlercreutz, Secretary of State of Romania Ms Daniela Anda Grigore Gîtman, and EESC Associate Expert Denis Cenusa. The event was moderated by Linas Kojala, EESC Director.
A central theme of the discussion was the geopolitical, methodological, and practical aspects of the EU’s enlargement policy, with a focus on changing policies to expedite the accession of countries like Ukraine and Moldova. During the event, Denis Cenusa presented the main findings of the recent paper “Upgrading EU Enlargement Methodology: Enhancing Accession Prospects for the New Eastern Candidates”
The featured participants shared their insights on the changing dynamics in the region. Olivér Várhelyi emphasized, “The Russian aggression against Ukraine served as a wake-up call. If Europe aims for long-term peace and stability, the inclusion of new member states will be necessary.”
Commissioner Várhelyi elaborated that the war against Ukraine had changed everything, necessitating a rethinking of existing tools and accession policies. He highlighted that EU membership now carries significant political and security weight, especially after the onset of the war. Anders Adlercreutz, Minister for European Affairs of Finland, added, “Now, we will need to change the mindset and create new tools to bring countries to the EU.”
Vice-Minister Jovita Neliupšienė noted Ukraine’s excellence in reforms in specific sectors even compared to other countries in previous accessions. At the same time, she emphasized the need for incentives while also discussing the potential for reversibility instruments.