The European Union would be poorer and less competitive if it had not accepted central and eastern European countries as members, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in Triest, at a foreign ministers' meeting of the Central European Initiative (CEI) on Wednesday. "It is enough to look at economic growth data from the past quarter," Szijjarto said in a statement. "Of the five best growth data, four are linked to central European countries," he added. Their performance greatly contributes to EU growth, which would be weaker had the EU not accepted CEE countries into its fold, Szijjarto said. The accession of countries from the Western Balkans would further strengthen the EU, he said. "If the EU wants to be more competitive and successful, then instead of reducing the number of members, it should increase it."