Central Europe Activ

Serbia’s EU border in Hungary.Jose Manuel Barroso said on Wednesday 3 September that it would be “possible” for Serbia to win the status of an EU candidate country in 2009, provided that it fulfills the necessary conditions, although the integration process “cannot be a calendar-driven process, but should be a reform-driven one.” For his part, Serbian president Mr Tadic said he hoped his country would obtain the candidate status “as soon as possible” and pledged to continue with the necessary reforms.

Serbia has previously expressed hopes to join Turkey, Croatia and Macedonia as official EU candidate as early as next year, and to become a full member by 2014. That would live little room for Bosnia-Herzegovina to remain a country and follow the same root, and Montenegro will surely follow.

Before forming there were expert views that the EU should abandon its official ‘Western Balkans policy’, a commitment to integrate the whole remaining Balkans including the former Yugoslavia and Albania, and to cherry-pick easily manageable states. However, Serbia is the most important economic, political and military power in the Western Balkans with sizeable and committed Serbian ethnic minorities in all other countries except for Albania.

I believe that these recent results, also far from anything near-agreed show that you cannot and should not bypass Serbia in integrating the Balkans. The ‘usual’ European way, getting around a problem instead of getting done with it would have long-lasting problems that would soak Europe’s diplomatic resources for many years.

Hat tip: Julien Frisch, CC Image: flavijus

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  1. Ignoring Serbia would be detrimental to the EU western Balkans policy. If Serbia is unstable, its size will affect all other neighboring countries. That said, the EU is unlikely to accept another enlargement if the candidate state is on par with the 2007 accession states.

  2. Perhaps, but was this really a surprise in the EU? The Dutch have been very direct about their position on the question of Serbia’s progress – they want the two war criminals handed over first.

    Still, I doubt that this will last beyond a few months. There is already speculation that the approval will be granted in October.

  3. The national veto is supposed to protect the national interest should the common European interest threaten it in such a way that cannot be resolved by a compromise. I think this was not an appropriate use of the national veto. But I think, so, too, that the Dutch will have to change their position. There is a vast interest in many member countries to integrate Serbia.

  4. In my eyes every country should get the opportunity to join the EU as long as it fullfills its criterions. And of course the country should belong to the EU. Turkey does not, exactly as India or Peru do not.

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