Faced with the Russian aggression against Ukraine and fears of Moscow’s increasing influence in parts of the Balkans, the European Union should make a “bold move” and accept new members by 2030, the European Council president said Monday.
Speaking at an international strategic forum at the Slovenian lakeside resort of Bled attended by Western Balkan leaders, Charles Michel said that it was time for those states that have been waiting in an EU membership line for more than 20 years to be given “a clear goal.”
“We must talk about timing, we must talk about our homework and I have a suggestion as we prepare the next EU strategic agenda,” Michel said. “We must set ourselves a clear goal: I believe we must be ready on both sides by 2030 to enlarge,” he said, to a big round of applause.
Stefan Surlić from the Faculty of Political Sciences says that the first scenario is that, as Serbia approaches the EU, it is faced with recognizing Kosovo’s independence and the second is that the European Union maintains flexibility and says that Serbia has the right to defend its position regarding Kosovo’s independence and that Kosovo, due to disagreements within the EU, should be treated as an entity.
“The third is what is being announced as a phased accession of politics, institutions and so on, so that Serbia could choose the degree of association with the European Union, and on the other hand, could still maintain its position regarding the status of Kosovo,” Surlić added.
What the Union certainly wants to avoid are the things it has already been burned by. Each Member State has to agree for a new member to join the EU must give their consent to receive a new one which creates room for further conditions like in the case of Bulgaria and North Macedonia and before that Slovenia and Croatia.
Strahinja Subotić, from the Centre for European Policies, says that Michel knows that without a credible membership perspective, without the specified accession date, it is difficult to expect bilateral problems to be solved easily.
“This is a strong political incentive to solve these problems because we have seen that when there is no political incentive, the dialogue stagnates and when the dialogue stagnates, wounds are re-opened. I think Michel made a step in the right direction. He sent us a message and he also wanted to pressure the Member States to reform the Union internally, so that it would be ready for further enlargement because French President Emmanuel Macron and other Member States have expressed their opinion that they were not ready for further enlargement at this point”, Subotić pointed out.
This post is also available in: Italiano