Their EU accession blocked by France, Albania and North Macedonia are opting for a regional, if temporary, solution. Together with Serbia, the Balkan states are looking to create their own version of the EU’s passport-free Schengen Area.
Citizens of the three countries would no longer need a passport to cross the border, but only have to show an ID card.
Labor movement would be liberalized through the mutual recognition of diplomas and qualifications.
Students could go on exchange.
Capital flows would be smoothened.
The other non-EU countries in the region — Bosnia, Montenegro and Kosovo — have been given the green light to join. Read more
EU Breaks Promise to Balkan States
Last week, French president Emmanuel Macron blocked the start of EU accession talks for Albania and North Macedonia, arguing that the Balkan states haven’t made enough progress to qualify and that the EU must reform internally before admitting new members.
His concerns were shared by the leaders of Denmark and the Netherlands.
They are not without merit. It would be naive to assume that decades of institutionalized corruption and crime, particularly in Albania, have been washed away over the course of a few years.
That said, progress has been made. North Macedonia’s name change is far from trivial. It represents a willingness to move on from the past. Albania has reformed its judicial system, encouraged by the prospect of membership.
If the French were so adamant about halting enlargement, they should never have made promises to Albania and North Macedonia in the first place.
Poland’s Andrzej Duda said it best: “Western Balkans states are taking part in a race that does not have a finishing line.” Read more
Kosovo Must Come to Terms with Reality
Last month, the president of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, dropped a bombshell, calling for unification with Albania.
Kosovo is majority ethnic Albanian, but unification would actually hinder the progress of both countries. Here’s why. Read more
How Close Are Western Balkan States to Joining the EU?
Leaders of the six Western Balkan countries that remain outside the EU are meeting in Poland this week to discuss their possible accession to the bloc. Four — Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia — are candidates to become member states.
Last year, a similar summit was held where the existing member states expressed their concerns about corruption, weak governance and unfree markets in the region. What has changed since then? Read more