Six countries in the Western Balkans have not yet offered any possibility of membership in the European Union. Countries like the Netherlands and Germany do not want to agree with them on an accession date yet. Albania, North Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro as well as Bosnia and Kosovo still need to implement many reforms.
Countries have wanted to join the union for years and were repeatedly told encouraging words in the waiting room. The European Commission has previously referred to the year 2025 for the accession of the six countries. Slovenia, which will chair the European Union in six months, dedicated Wednesday’s EU summit to the region and wanted to agree that it would be before 2030. But that met with great resistance.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte then notes that “this actually goes too far for everyone”. “Because you want to be sure that when states become members, they also meet all the requirements. If you now make an appointment and say: This date is sacred, and not whether you meet the requirements, you risk that states don’t” they won’t do everything it takes to become a member actually “.
Albania and North Macedonia are eager to start negotiations on the needed reforms, but have not been granted permission. Rota understands their impatience. But he says this is the fault of Bulgaria, which thwarted the start of negotiations due to an old rift with North Macedonia. “Today we said with a lot of colleagues, including myself: Solve this problem.”
The loaded term “enlargement” of the European Union appears in the declaration in which the leaders concluded the summit but indirectly, without deadlines or commitments. Despite this, according to EU leaders, there is a realization that Russia and China can stabilize the region if they are isolated by the EU. Once again, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has warned that the union’s persuasion and influence threaten to wither if the patience of ambitious member states is tested.
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