Thursday, may 17, in Sofia started the summit of heads of States and governments of EU countries. It is held on the initiative of Bulgaria, which currently holds the EU presidency. The main theme of negotiations — the accession of Western Balkan countries into the European Union.
Referring to the six candidates: Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo. Official candidates for EU membership are at the moment four of them — Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, this status has not yet received.
Serbia and Montenegro are closest to the EU membership. Probable date for these are called in Brussels by 2025. In addition, every time you mention that this happens if you manage to overcome all barriers on the way of European integration. Negotiations on the possible timing of EU accession of Albania and Macedonia should begin this summer.
Were you able to reach concrete decisions at the summit in Sofia?
Alas, the opinions of European leaders on the issue of EU enlargement due to the six Balkan countries are not the same. For example, the Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, in front of which there is an acute problem of separatism in their own country (Catalan crisis), opposed the inclusion of Kosovo in the number of candidates for EU membership. So Rajoy took part only in the collective dinner of European leaders, and then left the summit.
European Council President Donald Tusk exudes optimism. He stated that in Sofia, the EU and the Western Balkan States began “to the phase of practical convergence”. According to him, joint development of transport, energy and communication systems, which the parties agreed at the summit in any case is not a “replacement of EU accession”. “This is an interim solution. I don’t see a different fate for the Western Balkans, besides EU accession. No alternative, no “plan B” — said Tusk.
But German Chancellor Angela Merkel refused to name the year 2025 by the time of accession of one or several countries to the European Union. “I do not support this date, since we are talking about the process, the implementation of which should be based on the progress made”, — said Merkel in Sofia. And it was supported by the President of France Emmanuel macron. He stressed that prior to the adoption of Western Balkan countries into its ranks, the EU should “undergo a process of reform.”
The EU Commission intends to accelerate the negotiation process with Serbia and Montenegro on the issue of their accession to the European Union. In the strategic document of the European Commission noted: “the entry into the EU of the Western Balkan countries meets its political and economic interests and contributes to its security”. And this document indicates the specific date — 2025.
Why Brussels wants to accelerate the process of EU enlargement?
The European Commission believes that China, Russia, Turkey, Arab countries seek to increase its influence in the Balkans. Therefore, the EU should more actively protect its interests in the region.