Wednesday

26th Jul 2017

EU reassures Balkans on post-Brexit enlargement

The EU, France and Germany have told Balkan leaders that the UK's exit from the EU would not stop aspirant countries from one day joining the fractured bloc.

French president Francois Hollande and Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel at a summit in Paris on Monday (4 July) told their six Balkan counterparts that enlargement of the European Union would continue.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"The British decision does not in any way put into question commitments made toward countries in the Balkan region. They will be respected," said Hollande.

Merkel issued a similar call of reassurance.

EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini said: "It is very important for the European Union to reaffirm the willingness to proceed on the European integration of the Western Balkan countries - all of them”.

Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia are at different stages in the enlargement process.

Serbia’s new chapters

Croatia on Monday agreed to no longer block Serbia from opening two new accession chapters that deal with the rule of law, the judiciary, and human rights.

All EU states, except Croatia, had in April backed the opening of the chapters (23 and 24). But Zagreb at the time had issues with Serbia's treatment of the Croatian minority in Serbia and with its courts jurisdiction war crimes.

Croatia's decision prompted Johannes Hahn, the EU commissioner in charge of enlargement, to send out a tweet saying that "#European perspective is real!”.

Hahn at the summit also announced the EU would provide €96 million for three railway infrastructure projects in Serbia, Albania and in Kosovo.

"We will also provide €50 million for greening measures such as energy efficiency in residential buildings and small scale hydro projects," he said.

Brexit ‘earthquake’

The Paris summit is unlikely to have allayed all concerns that the EU will be able to return to business as usual, however.

Serbia's prime minister Aleksandar Vucic described the UK decision "as the biggest political earthquake since the fall of the Berlin wall", reports the Associated Press.

He said the knock-on effects would be felt in Serbia.

"There is no doubt that this will have significant consequences not only in the short but also in the long term. What the EU enlargement policy will be, I cannot tell you at this moment," he added.

He spoke amid a growing pro-Russian sentiment that has taken root in Serbia, Moscow's only strategic ally in the region, with some in Serbia hoping that the UK referendum result would bring EU expansion to a halt.

Bosnia political divisions laid bare in census row

Bosnia must publish much-delayed census data before 1 July, otherwise its EU membership bid could be torpedoed. It could radically alter the quota-based governing system put in place after the war.

Interview

EU warned of Russian 'peril' in Western Balkans

Russia is actively working with “strongholds” of anti-Western sentiment in the Balkans to compete for influence, Montenegro’s prime minister has warned.

Juncker: Death penalty will end Turkey's EU bid

Turkish president Erdogan said he would reinstate capital punishment, for people behind last year's failed military coup. But European Commission president Juncker says the move would end Turkey's bid to join the EU.

Opinion

Overcoming the plot against Turkish democracy

One year after an attempted coup, what Turkey needs is not biased and groundless criticism but more cooperation, dialogue and understanding, writes its Europe minister Omer Celik.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  3. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  4. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  5. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  6. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  8. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  10. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  11. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  12. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way

Latest News

  1. EU and Turkey fail to defuse tensions
  2. European law will apply 'for years' in the UK, says EU judge
  3. US votes to sanction EU firms in Russia project
  4. Journalists on trial highlight Turkey crackdown
  5. EU to give research tips on dual food quality
  6. Polish president's veto leaves uncertainties over next move
  7. EU Commission unmoved by Polish president's veto
  8. UK presses the Brexit pause button