EU-WB Summit: Enlargement Promises Remain, No Guarantees

The EU-Western Balkans summit in Slovenia ended with symbolic messages and no specific efforts. Promises of enlargement remain, but without guarantees for the region, as outlined in the summit’s final declaration. In addition to supporting the European perspective of the region, it also states the capacity to admit new members. Additionally, the country’s agreements with Greece and Bulgaria are mentioned and they are required to be fully implemented. EC Head, Ursula von der Leyen reiterated at the final press conference that the EU should deliver on its part, adding that the postponement of the start of negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania leaves room for other forces in the region. “It is important to know that the European Commission is working intensively to find the key issues in the bilateral dispute between North Macedonia and Bulgaria, these are a “five plus one” issue, to put together a roadmap as a practical step towards resolving this issue,” von der Leyen stated. After the summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the participants agreed that the Western Balkan countries belong to the EU, but that she did not support giving a fixed date to the countries in the region for accession. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, on the other hand, sent a message that there is a prospect for enlargement, but that not all member states have the same desire for enlargement. “All I have heard in these two days, at the EPP Summit, is that there is a prospect for enlargement, but that not all member states have the same appetite for EU enlargement. But everyone listened carefully to the main actors and understood that there were strategic EU interests in the region,” Vucic stated. Ahead of the summit, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said in an interview that he no longer expected anything from the European Union. Rama added that according to him, Europe has many internal problems, and enlargement is not viewed with enthusiasm.