EC announces new strategy for Western Balkans enlargement

  • Mihai Turcanu
  • 8.2.2018 18:31

On 6 February, the European Commission (EC) announced its strategy for the integration of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. The “Credible Perspective of Enlargement to the Western Balkans" action plan aims to revitalise the post-Brexit EU, and to curb Russian and Turkish influence in the region. 

This development takes place under Bulgaria's EU presidency's goal to accelerate the accession of Balkan countries into the EU. The strategy emphasizes the fact that Montenegro and Serbia, the only ones engaged in accession negotiations, could join the EU by 2025. The EC, however, acknowledges this is an ambitious goal as both countries, and the other candidates, must meet six flagship criteria: rule of law, security and migration, socio-economic development, transport and energy connectivity, digital agenda, as well as reconciliation and good neighbourly relations. Despite Macedonia’s recent willingness to solve its name dispute with Greece, the sixth criterion remains especially problematic, as the Kosovo problem still lingers and the Commission has hinted Serbia wouldn't join the EU before normalising its relations with Pristina. Additionally, EU countries confronted with the risk of separatism, like Romania or Slovakia, do not recognise Kosovo and Spain has insisted that Pristina be excluded from EU enlargement plans. 

About author: Mihai Turcanu

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