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Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

13.11.09: The pace picks up on EU enlargement into the Balkans - 0 views

  • EmailSharePrint Back to Brussels Blog homepage The pace picks up on EU enlargement into the Balkans November 13, 2009 3:59pm Enlargement of the European Union is, almost imperceptibly, moving forward once more.  EU foreign ministers are expected next week to forward Albania’s membership application to the European Commission for an opinion.  This is a necessary technical step on the path to entry - small, but important. The Commission is already preparing opinions on the applications of Iceland and Montenegro.  The opinions will take quite some time to deliver - longer for Albania and Montenegro than for Iceland - but the machinery is now in motion. There are signs of progress elsewhere, too.  For a long time Serbia’s efforts to draw closer to the EU have been held back by the refusal of the Netherlands to permit implementation of Serbia’s EU stabilisation and association agreement.  The Dutch insist that Serge Brammertz, the chief United Nations war crimes prosecutor, must first of all declare that Serbia is fully complying with its efforts to capture war crimes suspects - principally, Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb military commander. Brammertz is due to hand his latest report to the UN Security Council in early December, and the Serbian government appears confident that it will be positive.  That would remove the Dutch veto and allow Serbia to make a formal application for EU membership.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

15.06.09: Croatia's EU talks to resume after long dispute - 0 views

  • Slovenia is expected to unblock Croatia's EU accession talks at a ministerial meeting today (15 June). The two countries have clashed for several months over disputed territories on the Adriatic coast.
  • Background: During the French EU Presidency, Slovenia blocked the opening of nine out of ten negotiating chapters with Zagreb due to an unresolved border dispute (EurActiv 18/12/08).  The Czech Presidency has so far failed to make any progress in the negotiations. Indeed, the EU recently postponed an accession conference after the two countries had failed to show any sign of conciliation (EurActiv 24/04/09).  Diplomats have serious doubts about the viability of Croatia's objective of wrapping up accession talks by the end of the year (so as to be ready to join the bloc in 2010) if the bilateral dispute is not resolved soon (see EurActiv LinksDossier on 'EU-Croatia' relations).  The border dispute between Slovenia and Croatia concerns small pockets of land along the Adriatic coast, which could prove important if accompanied by exclusive access rights to deep-sea zones. 
  • However, this may not be the end of the region's problems, as similar obstacles are expected to emerge in the Western Balkan accession process as a whole, diplomats told EurActiv.  EU diplomats said the lack of a clearly defined border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina could soon create problems "one hundred times worse" than the current dispute between Ljubljana and Zagreb, in which the European Commission has invested a huge mediation effort. 
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  • The Netherlands and Belgium are blocking the ratification of the EU's Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Serbia as long as Mladic is at large. Diplomats say that imposing such conditions makes it difficult for the reformist government in Belgrade to withstand the surge of nationalist and anti-European forces. 
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