EU sets date for next wave of enlargement

A leaked European Commission document obtained by EU Observer states Montenegro and Serbia should be ready for EU membership by 2025, if they enact real reforms and lasting solutions to disputes with their neighbors. The document also states Albania, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Kosovo should be well advanced on their European path. However, local disputes could hold back the “ambitious” accession timeline, the paper states. The commission is apparently proposing  international arbitration, possibly in The Hague, as a solution to Western Balkan border disputes. On the Serbia-Kosovo issue, the document says comprehensive normalization in the form of a legally binding document is crucial for the EU accession prospects of both Belgrade and Pristina. Likewise, the commission paper alludes to Belgrade by saying accession frontrunners have a strategic interest in advocating the EU “aspirations of their partners.” It appears Brussels is placing emphasis on its enlargement agenda in the Western Balkans during Bulgaria’s six-month EU presidency, which is now under way and lasts through June. An EU Western Balkans summit is scheduled for May 18 in Sofia.


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