EU membership ‘open to all Western Balkan nations’

27 Feb 18

The Western Balkan countries could join the European Union by 2025 if they meet the criteria for membership, the European Commission chief has said.

Jean-Claude Juncker told the Western Balkan countries on 25 February that 2025 could be a possible entry date for all, not just the countries in the forefront.

He told reporters: “Contrary to what we read everywhere, the commission and myself did not say that Serbia and Montenegro would necessarily be members of the EU by 2025.

“The 2025 date is open to all candidate countries.”

He told a new conference: “And to the extent that a candidate country by then or earlier would have met all the criteria for membership, we will proceed in such a way that its efforts will be recognised by the EU.”

Countries wishing to join the bloc must have stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities; a functioning market economy and the capacity to cope with competition and market forces in the EU; and the ability to take on and implement effectively the obligations of membership, including adherence to the aims of political, economic and monetary union.

In the case of the countries of the Western Balkans additional conditions apply for membership, the European Commission’s website states, mostly relating to regional cooperation and good “neighbourly relations”.

Serbia and Montenegro are seen as the Western Balkan countries most ready to join the EU and are negotiating several accession ‘chapters’ of the 35 they need to address before joining. They have only completed work on a few of these.

Albania and Macedonia expect to start negotiations in June. 

The EU defines the Western Balkan countries as Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania.

 

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