Reuters: Balkan loses faith in Brussels, EU must recognise it, document says

EU zastava
Source: REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

A European Union's internal document which Reuters had access to, said that "the EU must recognise that Balkan countries seeking membership are losing faith in Brussels' long accession strategy," the agency reported on Wednesday.

It added the feeling was „worsened by its initial failure to provide COVID-19 vaccines.“

„Europe and the United States say that Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia will one day become members of the club of 27 states, following the ethnic wars of the 1990s that led to the disintegration of Yugoslavia,“ said the document carried by Reuters.

It added that „China and Russia, whose trade and investment levels in the Balkans are far less than the EU’s, are gaining influence, outsmarting the bloc by offering COVID-19 vaccines quickly during the pandemic.“

The internal document recalled that „after years of EU neglect of the region, Croatia organised an EU summit in May 2020 to give new impetus to Balkan integration. North Macedonia and Albania were meant to launch membership talks at the end of the last year.“

But the EU said that new problems occurred with Bulgarian obstacles to North Macedonia’s attempt to start the accession talks with the bloc over the language dispute. At the same time, France stopped the opening of the negotiations with Tirana and Skopje, unhappy with democracy and the fight against corruption in Albania and North Macedonia.

Reuters quoted the document as saying that „membership talks with Serbia and Montenegro, the pair seen as furthest ahead in the accession process, have also slowed, while Bosnia and Kosovo have yet to be formally designated as EU membership candidates.“

„The widespread perception in the Western Balkans is that the prospect of accession is receding and that European inspirations are lost under a complex set of conditions and procedures,“ the internal report seen by Reuters said.