Will the EU grant Serbia accession in this century?
European Union is not ready for new enlargements and cannot guarantee that the Western Balkans will become a part of it at some point.Source: Novosti
This is the latest news from Brussels, which appeared in the Western media two days ago and only further fueled suspicions that the European path is on a long stick, Vecernje Novosti reminds.
The paper states that Serbia is criticized for good cooperation with Russia and China, that we were among the first to receive Chinese vaccines against COVID, and that the events in Jarinje are mentioned, where Serbs protest for ten days because of Albanians' attempts to endanger the freedom of movement of our compatriots.
EU countries did not want to reveal their views individually, which is why they are afraid of enlargement, but it is assumed that rich countries such as Denmark, France and the Netherlands fear a recurrence of Romania and Bulgaria's urgent accession in 2007 and poor management of migration of Eastern European workers to Britain, which was the main cause for the islanders to turn against the EU and opt for Brexit.
On this occasion, European Commission spokeswoman Ana Pisonero Hernandez issued a protocol statement on Wednesday that "the EC is firmly committed to improving the accession process of the Western Balkan countries, including Albania and North Macedonia".
During the last year and this year, Serbia did not receive the consent from Brussels for the opening of new chapters or clusters, and we will most likely fail to get the green light even in December, when there is a new gathering of European leaders. According to President Aleksandar Vučić, we will be blocked by Croatia, which has happened before, but also by another country. Judging by previous experiences, it could be the Netherlands or Belgium. Although smaller countries always push to vote against, it is a public secret that there is always a larger European power behind them, such as Germany or France.
The president's suspicions that the Croats will block us were also confirmed by his Croatian colleague Zoran Milanovic, who said that, with the current situation in Kosovo and Metohija, "with taking such a guard, Belgrade and Pristina will find it difficult to progress towards the European Union."
Serbia has currently opened 18 of the 35 chapters, and has closed two. In the meantime, we agreed to a different methodology, to divide related chapters into six clusters that unite topics - rule of law, markets, economy, green agenda, agriculture and resources and external relations, so clusters are opened and closed.
According to Suzana Grubjesic from the Center for Foreign Policy, there is always a danger that someone will block us, but she hopes that will not happen: "We have seen on the example of North Macedonia, which is blocked by Bulgaria, that it is counterproductive and that the popularity of European integration is declining, and the impression is created that this process lasts indefinitely. It must not become a practice. I hope we will open clusters," she said.
On the other hand, the President of the Assembly of Serbia, Ivica Dačić, recently asked the EU for clearer messages on enlargement and membership. "We are tired from the promises of joining the EU. All these years and even decades, we have been hearing promises of EU membership, and the question is which generation will experience that. Does that refer to this or the next decade, to this century at all? We want to be told - we do not want to expand the EU anymore and that is a reality", said Dačić.
In addition to the story about the ban on enlargement, there was also information that the reintroduction of visas for our citizens could be imposed as a topic. The reason for that, allegedly, are illegal residences and unfounded asylum requests from some countries in the Western Balkans, as well as Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine.
According to an internal EU document, Serbia and Albania are among the 10 most problematic countries when it comes to respecting the visa-free regime, which is why Germany believes that the European Commission should reiterate that launching a mechanism for suspending the visa-free regime is a realistic option.