There is more willingness among (EU) member states to address enlargement than a year ago, says EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn.

The EU official in charge of neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations told Austria’s Wiener Zeitung newspaper that two years ago the enlargement process was considered dead in the EU – but “member states have realized that peace could be achieved in the Balkans and that the perspective of joining the EU is vital for it.”

Reuters carried excerpts from the interview, and said that the EU sees the region as important for issues from controlling immigration to countering security threats – “ranging from alleged interference of Russia to radical Islam.”

Hahn is further quoted as saying that the Western Balkans and its 20 million people “who are keen on developing their prosperity are a very attractive market for the bloc” – and that “a new member state is not a burden but an enrichment.”

Hahn does not support “the idea of a multi speed Europe” as this would lead to member states “drifting apart.”

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