The leaders of the EU and the Western Balkans are meeting in Brussels today for a summit that will reiterate the region’s importance to the EU as their accession process is delayed.
“We need to revitalize the enlargement process and promote the integration of our partners in the Western Balkans,” European Council President Charles Michel said in a letter of invitation to European leaders.
According to an EU source, the debate is likely to be heated. Suffice it to say that the leaders of Serbia, Northern Macedonia and Albania threatened to boycott the meeting to protest the slow pace of the accession process, finally confirming their participation almost at the last minute.
According to the draft conclusions of the European Council, EU leaders are expected to express the “full and unequivocal commitment of the EU to the accession of the Western Balkans” and to call for the acceleration of the accession process. The European Council is also expected to call on the Commission, the High Representative and the Council to further promote the gradual integration between the EU and the region, already during the enlargement process itself, in a reversible and meritocratic way.
At the same time, Northern Macedonia and Albania are waiting for the “green light” from the EU to start accession negotiations. The process continues to be blocked by Bulgaria, which has sunk into a new political crisis, following the vote of confidence the government lost in yesterday’s vote in Parliament. Therefore, it is considered almost unlikely that the issue will be resolved today, according to diplomatic sources, but efforts are being made to find a solution by the end of the French Presidency (end of June).
The EU-Western Balkans Summit starts at 10.30 am (Greek time zone).
The European Council will follow at 4 p.m. (Greek time) with key issues the approval of candidate status for membership in Ukraine and Moldova, food security, the situation in Ukraine, Turkey. On the second day of the Summit, 24 June, the macroeconomic situation in the EU and the implications of the Russian invasion of Ukraine will be discussed in the presence of the President of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde.