Serbia and Montenegro are the only Western Balkan countries to receive a clear calendar deadline on the possible accession to the European Union (EU) by 2025, while other four regional countries, also EU candidates, will have to wait to be given one.
This is stated in the latest and final version of the EU’s strategy called “The Credible Enlargement Perspective for the Western Balkans” which has been adopted at today’s meeting of the European Commission.
The document qualifies Montenegro and Serbia as leaders in the region and their admission to the EU is predicted to happen in seven years’ time.
“Accession negotiations are in progress with Montenegro and Serbia. With strong political will, ensuring realistic and sustainable reforms and definitive solutions to disputes with neighbours, they would potentially be ready for membership by 2025,” says the final version of the Strategy, which will be revealed on Tuesday, 6th February, in Strasbourg,
The document states that other Western Balkan countries are qualified as prospective EU members, and they will not be given clear deadlines for accession.
“The Commission is ready to prepare recommendations for opening of accession negotiations with Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, providing they meet the conditions. With continued efforts and engagement, Bosnia and Herzegovina could become a candidate for membership. Kosovo has the possibility of sustainable progress through the implementation of the Stabilization and Accession Agreement, and to advance on its European path, when objective circumstances allow it, “the document says.
In its strategy, the European Commission has also abandoned its ambition to have a comprehensive agreement on the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo by the end of 2019, as pointed out in previous versions. The strategy, however, underlines the need to “urgently conclude a comprehensive, legally binding agreement on normalization”.
The strategy also states that the political elites in the countries of the region are linked to criminal structures. “Today, these countries show clear elements of the ‘captured’ state. There are links to organized crime and corruption at all levels of government and administration, as well as the strong interference in public and private interests,” the latest version of the Strategy says, and estimates that this all causes a sense of impunity and inequalities.
The document warns that there is “extensive political interference and control over the media”.
“Visibly empowered and independent judiciary, as well as responsible governments and administrations, are necessary for making lasting social changes that are needed,” the latest text of the Strategy says.
(Radio Free Europe, 05.02.2018)
This post is also available in: Italiano