Sunday

21st Jan 2018

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 for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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.

News in Brief

  1. Germany confirms attendance at air quality summit
  2. Nearly half of 'fixed' Dieselgate cars show problems
  3. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook up hate speech deletion
  4. UK mulls bridge to France
  5. German far-right float anti-asylum bill
  6. EU Parliament to investigate glyphosate-decision process
  7. 'Mutagenesis' falls outside EU's GMO rules, says EU top lawyer
  8. Decision on Polish MEP's Nazi-era slur postponed

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on the agenda This WEEK
  2. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  3. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  4. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  5. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  6. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names
  7. EU to lend Greece up to €7bn more next week
  8. Nato prepares to take in Macedonia