European Union to unveil West Balkan expansion strategy paper on Tuesday

European Union to unveil West Balkan expansion strategy paper on Tuesday

The EU will launch its enlargement plan today meant to kickstart long-stalled membership negotiations with the five former Yugoslavian republics

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker looks on before addressing the European Parliament during a debate on The State of the European Union in Strasbourg

Photo: Reuters/Christian Hartmann

The EU will launch its enlargement plan today meant to kickstart long-stalled membership negotiations with the five former Yugoslavian republics plus Albania.

The aspirational strategy seeks to integrate Serbia and Montenegro into the EU by 2025 and to have Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo to be at an advanced state of negotiations. It now has a powerful backer in European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who in 2014 was lukewarm to imminent expansion. It also has the crucial support of Bulgaria, which holds the current rotating presidency of the EU.

However, Germany is wary of expansion without proper foreseeable economic reforms, especially in dealing with corruption. Spain and others also oppose Kosovo’s candidature as it may galvanise the ambitions of Kosovan separatists.

Despite these issues, the EU is also motivated to counter traditional Russian influence in the region—fueled further by the glacial pace of the accession process. Expect a slower road to Brussels for Serbia and Montenegro, who may be accepted after 2025. The others will likely take longer.

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