The EU freezes the dreams of expansion in the Balkans

In May 2018, at the last face-to-face summit between the Heads of State and Government of the EU and the neighbors of the Balkans (Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia

The EU freezes the dreams of expansion in the Balkans

In May 2018, at the last face-to-face summit between the Heads of State and Government of the EU and the neighbors of the Balkans (Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Kosovo), the message was very clear: hand LED but closed door. Good words, good wishes, promises of economic cooperation and good proximity, but no hope on a future new short-term expansion. The message now, three and a half years later, is even clearer: the door has seven padlocks.

The situation does not lead to deception. The expansion of 2004-2007 was a milestone in many aspects, but there is an important group of veteran partners who believe was a mistake, that if it could be coming back in time it would probably turn back and that it has charged so much that it does not want to go back to Hear adhesions. The problems with Hungary and Poland are the clearest example, but not the only one. Corruption, migratory crisis, non-surpassed tensions, populism, deaths of journalists, etc. That is why in a very short time the climate has changed completely. In 2003 there was a promise. In 2018, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, imagined the Union of Serbia and Montenegro as soon as 2025 if the necessary reforms were produced and border disputes were solved. The words of him, a mixture of desire and lobby, could not be further away from reality.

The first of the row, right now, are Albania and Macedonia del Norte, who have done almost everything that has been asked to at least be able to sit at the table to negotiate, but there is no appetite beyond Brussels and some countries neighbors. Bulgaria continues to calm down the initial talks by disputes with Skopje on historical claims, minorities and linguistic discrepancies. The Spanish President, Pedro Sánchez, said this week the Albanian EDI branch that "Europe is its space" and that "Spain is actively in favor of expansion," and the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Limen, said that week in Shot that "Albania's future is in the EU," but the majority feeling is not there.

It is not (only) a matter of money, politics, of elections such as those that have just been celebrated in Germany and celebrated in France in the spring. Something has been awakened in the last lustro at a cultural, identity level. The feeling that perpetual growth is not the answer, that there are background issues, very deep, that make it discourageable what for decades it had been an engine. There was an unwritten rule that turned Brussels into the lighthouse on the hill, illuminating to guide the most disoriented neighbors, but also showing the way home. It's not like that.

Now there is no talk of love, but as a lot of marriages of convenience. There are not many who believe that neighbors can fit well in the union, but they fear that if the refusal is too clear they will end up listening to other siren songs. "If the EU is not in the region, there is no doubt that others will hurry to fill the void," he notified the Greek Mitsotakis on Tuesday, thinking about Russia, Turkey and China. The EU rivals are doing their duties for years, they increase their presence, their investment, their propaganda. It is working, as it was seen during the first compasses of the pandemic and now, in the delicate moments. Community narrative is as loose as its promises.

The Slovenian Presidency (the country has that semester the Rotary Directorate of the Council) that the Summit has organized attempted to force a document of conclusions that would fix around 2030 the date in which the most advanced countries, provided they have done their duties, can Aspirate accession. The rejection was very clear and the deep pitch. "The EU reconfirms its commitments with the expansion process and the decisions adopted on the basis of credible reforms of its partners, rigorous conditions and the principle of own merits," says the joint document in a paragraph added at the last minute to soften a position Clearly cold.

But it is not only the develope, when not open contempt in the preparations for the meeting on Wednesday, in which there will also be representatives of the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development or the World Bank, but the 27 meet to Dining this Tuesday, in the previous summit, but to talk about China, from the position of Europe in the world, of the Australian submarines. What you care about the leaders, but not to the Balkans. And that has sat badly. The topics that in the area would like to discuss are economic relations of proximity, travel visas, not from the crisis in the Indian.

The 27 have now an important decision for the next decade, find the balance between hopes and disappointments, between more or less empty and slapping realism promises. European credibility is not at its best, but it is still aspiration and natural destiny for Western Balkans. Approaching generates many misgivings, but not doing so has consequences. Many in the area blame this impasse of tensions in Bosnia or the umpteenth crisis between Serbia and Kosovo, which has forced NATO recently to multiply its patrols. The EU fears becoming wrong again, but it also knows that there is only a worse mistake than ignoring a problem: ignore it in the Balkan powder. Everything that is heated there is always all over the continent.

Updated Date: 06 October 2021, 00:14

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