Monday

15th Apr 2024

EPP wants to re-open accession talks with Balkans

  • 'There still has to be a realistic perspective of membership for the countries of the Western Balkans,' Angela Merkel said at the congress in Zagreb of the EPP (Photo: EU Commission)

An emergency resolution adopted at the European People's Party (EPP) congress in Zagreb calls on the EU council and member states to commit to taking a positive decision on re-opening accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania as soon as possible.

During the last EU summit, France, Denmark, and the Netherlands blocked enlargement talks with these two Balkan countries.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

However, the text adopted on Wednesday (20 November) states that "the incoming new European commission should immediately take stock of the enlargement policy and assist in reverting this negative decision as soon as possible".

"We share the same continent, history, and culture. It is in our common interest that the Western Balkans have a European perspective," said EU commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen.

The efforts of both North Macedonia and Albania were largely recognised by the largest European political party, although some EPP delegates pointed out that corruption and the political crisis remain an issue of concern in Albania.

The Western Balkans might not be part of the European Union, but they are part of Europe, since they are geographically surrounded by EU member states, sharing common heritage and history.

A Bosniak member of the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Šefik Džaferović, said that "the EU is based on the idea that people of different races, nations and religions can live together".

However, "today there are some [politicians] in Europe that do not agree with the idea of respecting that diversity, since they believe that some nations and religions do not have their place in Europe," Džaferović added.

After blocking accession negotiations, France has recently proposed to change the current EU enlargement process for a "gradual association," based on a seven-step method.

While Denmark and the Netherlands seem to have a similar approach to the French model, while Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia were "convergent" with it.

"The European project will not be completed without the Balkan region," pointed out the next commissioner for demography and democracy, Dubravka Šuica, who rejected the new French model for EU's enlargement because "there is enough space in the actual treaty".

"Once we promise, we need to deliver," said Šuica, who also raised the question of whether unanimity should be a requirement in the council for EU's enlargement.

Croatian prime minister Andrej Plenkovic said at the EPP meeting that the criteria for becoming a member are currently very detailed and tough in the treaties, adding that "any European country has the right to seek membership."

'Critical period'

However, Merkel said after meeting with Plenkovic that discussions with France over the EU's enlargement process were necessary.

"There still has to be a realistic perspective of membership for the countries of the Western Balkans," she said.

Croatia will hold its first EU's presidency from January to June 2020, with EU enlargement high on the agenda.

The Croatian presidency will be in charge of organising the EU-Western Balkans Summit in May, which will determine political and institutional relations in the region for the next decade, Plenković said.

Tusk expressed on Tuesday confidence in Croatia's presidency, adding that the presidency of the youngest EU member state will come at a "critical period" for the 28-nation bloc, since Brexit and the EU's budgetary negotiations will take place then.

"I deeply believe that [Croatia] will do everything in your power to restore EU unity and enlargement while demonstrating positive EU engagement in the region," Tusk said, adding that he believes that the outcome of the EU-Western Balkans Summit can be a success.

"I am leaving the EU in good hands," he added.

EU fails to deliver on Albania and North Macedonia

Denmark, France and the Netherlands opposed opening talks on EU accession with Albania and North Macedonia in a blow that may invite greater Russian influence in the Balkan region.

Exclusive

France unveils new model EU enlargement

Western Balkan countries should become EU members via a new, step-by-step process, France has said in a detailed proposal seen by EUobserver.

Finland: EU 'not brain dead' on enlargement

EU countries have given a mixed reaction to French proposals on enlargement reform, but ongoing talks did not mean the process had stalled, Finland said.

Opinion

Macron's Balkan cordon sanitaire will backfire on EU

Paris is, by default, now steering the EU's overall policy agenda toward the Western Balkans. This seems to be the opening volley and test bed for Macron's goal of recalibrating the entire EU agenda.

Opinion

How enlargement is running out of steam

While the EU's enlargement progress reports have moved closer to capturing the problems of the region, they are still lagging behind in capturing the decline of democracy and rule of law in most of the region.

Opinion

Why Miroslav Lajčák is the wrong choice for EU envoy

The EU could blow up the Kosovo-Serbia negotiations' reset. Should Miroslav Lajčák indeed be appointed, the two senior EU diplomats dealing with Kosovo would both come from the small minority of member states that do not recognise Kosovo.

Opinion

The Bolsonaro-Orbán far-right nexus

Defeated far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has given various reasons for sheltering at the Hungarian embassy in Brasilia — none of them make sense.

Latest News

  1. EU puts Sudan war and famine-risk back in spotlight
  2. EU to blacklist Israeli settlers, after new sanctions on Hamas
  3. Private fears of fairtrade activist for EU election campaign
  4. Brussels venue ditches far-right conference after public pressure
  5. How German police pulled the plug on a Gaza conference
  6. EU special summit, MEPs prep work, social agenda This WEEK
  7. EU leaders condemn Iran, urge Israeli restraint
  8. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us