First, it was in 2004, then in 2010, then in 2014 and 2018, then until 2025, and now the target date has been moved again and set for 2027. When is Serbia finally going to join the European Union?
The Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said, ten days ago, that it would be ideal for Serbia and Montenegro to join the European family before the end of 2027.
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On the one hand, this statement can be interpreted as an extension of another deadline and removal of Serbia from the EU; on the other hand, it can be seen as an impetus for Serbia to continue on the path of European integration thanks to the support of the Visegrad Group (to which the Czech Republic belongs along with Poland, Hungary and Slovakia).
But why exactly 2027? Is it a new and realistic date, since the public is more or less aware that the accession will not happen in 2025, or is it something else?
As Strahinja Subotic, from the Centre for European Policies explains, it is a form of support sent to Serbia and Montenegro.
“This is another concrete perspective coming from the countries that make the so-called Visegrad Group that support the Western Balkans. We can deduce from the declaration the Group signed ten days ago in Prague, that it would be good for Serbia and Montenegro to become the Union members by 2027 and, if they are ready, even sooner,” Subotic points out.
“It would be good if this were to happen during the financial cycle, which runs from 2021 to 2027. The signed declaration carries a lot of weight because the Visegrad Group can influence the EU as a region. However, what should also be clear is that none of these countries will jeopardize their interests and relations with the EU Member States on the account of the accession of the Western Balkans,” said Subotic, adding that Germany, France and the Netherlands remain the key countries when it comes to determining which country would join the EU.
The Secretary-General of the European Movement in Serbia, Suzana Grubjesic, also believes that the largest and most powerful members of the Union are crucial in the entire matter, sharing the opinion of the Czech Prime Minister.
“Until we see and hear what Germany and France have to say, we have to take the possible accession date with a grain of salt,” Grubjesic explained.
Moreover, she said, the enlargement strategy that was approved in 2018, setting a possible accession date at 2025, was not adopted by the European Council but was only “acknowledged”, which is why each country can come forward with its own projection.
“On the other hand, those member states that are still against the enlargement, have not mentioned any date. That’s why this should be viewed only as an opinion of a state,” she says.
She also says that there will be no new enlargement wave during the new term of the European Parliament, at least until 2024: “At best, Serbia and Montenegro, or only one of them, could sign an accession treaty by that date.”
The EU budget is also not a particular indicator, as an ad hoc budget line can be opened for enlargement.
This post is also available in: Italiano