EU to discuss West Balkan hopefuls

The European Commission will not recommend that any of the Western Balkans countries takes a new step towards joining the EU.

Izvor: Reuters

Thursday, 02.11.2006.


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EU to discuss West Balkan hopefuls

In contrast to last year, when Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia and Albania each climbed a rung on the ladder towards eventual membership, this year's reports will essentially mark time, the sources said.

That reflects both performance issues in each of the hopefuls and a mood of "enlargement fatigue" in the 25-nation bloc, with widespread calls for a pause in expansion after the entry of Bulgaria and Romania next January.

"We will have a de facto pause after Romania and Bulgaria join of perhaps five or six years without further accessions until Croatia is ready to join," a senior EU official said.

Croatia opened EU membership talks a year ago, having missed out on a wave of expansion in 2004.

The EU executive will avoid endorsing Macedonia's goal of starting accession negotiations next year due to concerns about politicization of the civil service and a lack of dialogue with the parliamentary opposition, one official said.

"The Macedonians haven't done themselves many favors since the election (in July)," he said.

Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski had shut out the main party representing the former Yugoslav republic's ethnic Albanian minority and replaced some 1,500 officials, politicizing many state institutions.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said when Skopje was granted the prized official candidate status last year that it would take more than one annual progress report before entry talks begin.

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