Is “gradual integration” of the Western Balkans into the EU possible? – Sarajevo Time

Austria has presented a new non-paper to the Member States of the European Union (EU), ie a document in which it advocates a new approach vis-à-vis the countries of the Western Balkans. The document envisages a gradual integration into the EU. The reason for this new initiative is the war in Ukraine and the fear that the stability of the Western Balkans is in danger. So far, there is no reaction from Germany and France to the new ideas.

A new non-paper has appeared in European circles. This time, the non-paper comes in the form of a proposal from Austria. Media, which have previewed the document, say Austria is seeking gradual integration into EU politics, and that the first step should be to invite Western Balkan countries to participate in informal meetings of the Council of the Union. The document, they claim, also mentions the gradual integration of countries into the common market, inclusion in trade and tax policies and participation in EU climate and energy policies. Austria believes that countries should also have access to European funds, which would be a great incentive. At the same time, an initiative comes from the Slovenian President for the EU to grant BiH candidate status without conditions or negotiations.

The EU would invest in peace, stability, prosperity and the European perspective of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)and because of that first move, he would next ask BiH to fulfill the conditions. BiH must get out of the vicious circle in which there is no progress or status like in any other Western Balkan country, are the words of Slovenian President Borut Pahor.

And all these initiatives are linked, say European policy experts. It should be noted that the agreement between Germany and France is crucial for any enlargement process, and that it does not exist. The reality is that there is no political will within the Union for the accession process, says Zijad Becirovic.

These are truly incredible things, but Pahor should be understood because he is already campaigning to be the EU’s special envoy for the Western Balkans, since his mandate as president expires in December this year, and Austria because of the prestige in the region because it always loses this game with bigger countries,” underlines Zijad Becirovic, director of the International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES).

The proposals are fresh, and there is no reaction from Germany. However, Germany’s position is known from before – the candidate’s path is paved with reform conditions that the Western Balkan countries must meet. According to analysts, the situation is complicated by the fact that the credibility of the enlargement policy has been lost, but also blocked by the EU members themselves.

I believe that the German government will reject President Pahor’s proposal to grant BiH candidate status without any conditions, and on the other hand we have the Austrian proposal which has already been seen, as the intermediate steps in the process integration of potential candidate countries into the EU, such as earlier access to EU structural funds, I have not seen Germany’s official position, but the assumptions are this Berlin is reservedWhen it comes to such proposals, says Bodo Weber, a German political analyst.

According to national analysts, candidate status would be an excellent way to start things in Bosnia and Herzegovina. But there is no reason for that, as shown by the fact that national politicians have done nothing since the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement.

It’s not about formal steps, it’s not about whether BiH will get candidate status, whether it will get a date for the start of negotiations, how much we have to be aware of the fact that absolutely nothing is made in BiH, so I will emphasize again – absolutely nothing, says political analyst Adnan Huskic.

It may become clearer in which direction things will go at the next summit of EU and Western Balkan leaders. Is there a political will for the European future of the Western Balkans or the action of this part of Europe in accordance with European guidelines, but against Russia, BHRT writing.


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