The countries of the Western Balkans are still in the EU’s waiting room, but they are not the only ones to blame. Yes, the expected reforms have not yet been carried out in the region, and unresolved conflicts are still smoldering. But EU enlargement is stagnating not only because of this.
The experience of the latest waves of enlargement is as strong as the brakes, leading to serious sobriety both in Brussels and in some European capitals.
Countries were unprepared
Disputes with Hungary and Poland over the rule of law are particularly depressing, showing that preparations for accession have been completely insufficient to truly link the new states to EU standards.
And when it accepted Cyprus, the EU voluntarily transferred a territorial conflict to its territory, which complicates relations not only with Turkey. That is why countries like France, in principle, rightly insist that the EU must first reform itself before bending the stick with new members.
That would be short-sighted
Brussels will not show foresight if it announces the date of the Western Balkans’ accession to the EU now – even if that date is 2030. Because at the moment no one still knows in what condition the EU and the respective countries will be at that time.
Today, these countries must be offered full cooperation, but below the level of EU membership. Because Europe has no right to cede this region to Russia and China.