Balkans accession talks to progress on territorial disputes

Balkans accession talks to progress on territorial disputes

Today, Bulgaria’s prime minister will host talks between the heads of the Balkan states and European Commission Chief Jean-Claude Juncker.

Balkans

Photo: AFP

Today, Bulgaria’s prime minister will host talks between the heads of the Balkan states and European Commission Chief Jean-Claude Juncker.

The EU recently agreed to an enlargement strategy that aims to incorporate six Balkan countries—Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania—into the EU by 2025.

But member states remain divided on the plan. While Poland, Italy and Austria have expressed support for the membership drive to counter foreign influence in the region, other actors have been more hesitant.

Germany, for example, says the plan is too ambitious, arguing that satisfying the many legal prerequisites for the accession of six separate countries is logistically unattainable under the proposed timeline.

Mr Junker himself has added that border disputes in the region, particularly Serbia’s lack of recognition of Kosovo as a sovereign state, could jeopardise the plan.

Given the significant nature of the territorial disputes Mr Junker and others have voiced concerns about, it is unlikely that all six states will make the 2025 accession hurdle in time. Additionally, watch out for the extent to which diplomatic pressure from EU member states in favour of speedy accession confirms or disproves Germany’s fears.