As Slovenia takes over the Presidency of the Council of the EU this week, the bloc continues to face a stalled enlargement process. Last week, Bulgaria reaffirmed its veto on commencing accession talks with North Macedonia, thus halting the accession process for both North Macedonia and Albania, despite reforms undertaken by the countries. The European Council had given its green light to opening accession talks with both countries back in March 2020.
The Slovenian Presidency, which begins this Thursday, has put Europe’s post-Covid recovery and Western Balkan enlargement among its priority areas and will host the 2021 EU-Western Balkans Summit in October. Meanwhile, the European Commission for its part has been focusing on promoting the recovery and economic stability of the Western Balkan region through a €3.3 billion emergency package, the Economic and Investment plan and vaccine delivery support.
Earlier this week, European Parliament President David Sassoli hosted a meeting with speakers of the Parliaments of the Western Balkans, the Portuguese Parliament and the Slovenian Parliament, to reaffirm the central role of parliaments in EU enlargement. Participants called on the Council to take decisive action to place the enlargement process at the forefront of its agenda.
5 July 2021: Berlin Process Summit
6 October 2021: EU – Western Balkans Summit
22 – 23 October 2021: Conference on the Future of Europe Plenary
The European Movement International position
As outlined in our policy position “Promoting peace, stability and investment in the Western Balkans”, the European Movement International believes that it is of the utmost importance that EU leaders and institutions maintain a positive enlargement narrative and a proactive EU involvement in the region, showing that their European trajectory remains on course and supporting the region’s recovery and long term stability.
The EU must accelerate the accession process with countries aspiring to join the bloc, especially those that have shown commitment to undergo the necessary reforms. Opening accession negotiations and overcoming bilateral differences would allow the EU to position itself as the main political and economic partner in the Western Balkans. Furthermore, it would represent an investment in the EU’s own prosperity, security and future generations as well as an encouragement to the commitment of the Western Balkans to build out a common European future.