At the moment, no new Balkan countries will join the European Union. This is what the European heads of government decided today at their summit in Slovenia. They were promised that they would be able to join in the future, but no specific perspective or date was mentioned.
These are the six Balkan countries of Albania, Serbia, Bosnia, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo that have been trying to join the European Union for nearly twenty years. The last country to join the European Union was Croatia in 2013.
Since then, there has been talk of further EU enlargement, but many countries disagree, in part because the decision-making process with 27 countries is already difficult enough. It is therefore not at all surprising for the Balkan countries that the summit once again did not set a date for their accession to the European Union.
The six countries are in various stages of the accession process. Formal accession negotiations are already underway with Montenegro, Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia ready to start accession negotiations, Kosovo and Bosnia are not there yet.
Although Albania and North Macedonia fulfill the terms of the accession negotiations, they do not have any prospects today. Bulgaria in particular objects to talks with North Macedonia due to the conflict over language and national identity.
The disappointment of the Balkan states was clearly noticeable. North Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zeev has warned the European Union that continued delays could have serious consequences. “People in the Western Balkans will be very disappointed and this will damage the image of European unity and cooperation.” Speaking to Serbian media, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said he was not surprised by the result. We have no illusion that we will join the European Union in the short term. “
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen believes that the six Balkan countries belong to the European Union, but there is still something to be done. “We share the same history, we share the same values and I am convinced that we share the same destiny.”
European leaders have announced that they will invest 30 billion euros in the region over the next seven years. Although heads of government are not sure when or whether the Balkan countries will join the European Union, everyone wants to maintain close ties with the region. There are serious concerns that Russia and China’s influence in the region will become too large if the EU continues to delay accession indefinitely.
The aim is therefore to strengthen trade relations between the Balkans and the European Union. In addition, work is also underway to reduce roaming charges in the Balkans.
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