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Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

04.11.10: A first look at the European Commission progress reports on enlargement due t... - 0 views

  • "The EU's enlargement process has gained new momentum since the [European] Commission adopted its last progress reports, notwithstanding the many other challenges the Union faces." These are the opening words of the European Commission's Enlargement Strategy, which will be officially presented next Wednesday (10 November) together with the progress reports for the Western Balkan counties, Turkey and Iceland. WAZ.EUobserver has seen the report in advance.
  • "All need to focus on good governance, improving the rule of law, speeding up economic reform and improving their capacity to adopt and implement the acquis. Several complex problems remain, including the governance of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the name question concerning the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Open bilateral issues remain and differences over Kosovo's status have held up regional co-operation," the strategy underlines.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

29.06.10 Belgium to take merit-based approach to EU enlargement - 0 views

  • Although Belgium is among the most cautious in the European Union when it comes to enlargement, there is a good chance that its forthcoming EU Presidency will be particularly productive in this policy area. At their presentation of the upcoming Belgian presidency's priorities last Friday, Yves Leterme, Belgium's caretaker prime minister and its foreign minister, Steven Vanackere, sounded much like their colleagues from the Netherlands - and not just because they spoke Dutch. The Belgian approach to enlargement is similar to the stance in the Hague: no promises, no dates, just "strict and fair" rules.
  • The next six months could mark important progress for the Western Balkan countries despite Belgium's cautious line. Croatia could close all but one of the negotiation chapters. Macedonia is close to getting a date for the opening of accession negotiations with the EU. Montenegro can count on a positive "avis" (opinion) from the European Commission for its candidate status. The Serbian application could be forwarded to the EU commission for an opinion on Serbia's readiness to become a candidate as well. Kosovo might receive some kind of a roadmap for its Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU. Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania can hope for visa liberalisation before the end of the year. Croatia is well-placed to close all its negotiation chapters, with the exception of the famous No. 23 on Judiciary and Fundamental Rights, which will remain to be concluded during the Hungarian Presidency in the first half of 2011. Still, problems could emerge with othe chapters, for example competition. Macedonia is close to finding a win-win solution to its name dispute with Greece. Talking to WAZ.EUobserver, EU diplomats in Brussels expressed cautious optimism that the name problem could be solved in the next months. This would allow the EU finally to set the date that Skopje has been waiting for since 2005 - for formal negotiations to start on Macedonia's entry into the EU.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

01.12.09: Three Balkan countries to get visa-free travel by Christmas - 0 views

  • Serbs, Macedonians and Montenegrins will be able to travel visa-free to Europe from 19 December, EU interior ministers decided on Monday. EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn said the move was a "big step in terms of EU integration and Europeanisation of the civil societies in these countries" and added that the other Balkan countries could join the visa-free regime once they met the conditions.
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

14.10.09: EU gives green light for Macedonia accession talks - 0 views

  • EU commissioner Olli Rehn, in charge of enlargement, said the Macedonian government should see the move as "very strong encouragement" to "finally settle the name issue," however. The reference concerns an 18-year old dispute between Macedonia and neighbouring Greece about the use of the name Macedonia. Croatia, hoping to join the EU in 2011, is "nearing the finishing line" after years of negotiations, said Mr Rehn, but needs to further tackle corruption and organised crime "before negotiations can be concluded." The commission report urges Turkey to do more to ensure freedom of expression and freedom of religion as well as bolster the rights of women and trade unions. Ankara has been lagging far behind Zagreb in its EU progress in part due to poor relations with EU member Cyprus, with whom it still has to fully implement a customs agreement. Progress is also slow due to a lack of enthusiasm on the part of several member states for Turkish membership and the pace of Turkish domestic reform.
  • Of the remaining five entities - Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo - that want to join the EU, Mr Rehn had the most to say about Bosnia and Herzegovina. The war-torn country was recently given an ultimatum by the EU and the US to sort out internal problems between Bosnian Muslims, Croats and Serbs by 20 October. Defining the country as of "paramount importance for the region and for the European Union," Mr Rehn said that Bosnia and Herzegovina could only consider an application for EU membership once it "can stand on its own two feet." "No quasi-protectorate can join the EU," he said, spelling out that the Office of High Representative would have to be closed down first. The post was created as part of the peace deal that ended the 1992-1995 war in the country, and can only be closed after a positive international assessment. Meanwhile, the Serbian government, which is being pushed to arrest two war crimes suspects from the 1990s, was praised for being "stable" and "demonstrating" a high degree of consensus on EU integration as a strategic priority." But even as the EU tries to bind all of the countries of the western Balkans and Turkey ever more closely through political and economic ties and the promise of eventual membership, there are continuous doubts about whether it has the political appetite to go through with another large round of expansion. Apart from Croatia, strongly supported by Germany and where EU membership is virtually assured, internal EU question marks remain over the rest.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

25.07.09: EU's visa-freedom dividing Balkans - 0 views

  • The “European perspective” is key concept for integrating western Balkans into EU. The main carrot for ordinary people during this millennium has been visa-free travel after some 17 years of isolation. On 15th July 2009, the European Commission submitted its proposal on visa-free travel for citizens of Western Balkans countries. After a non-binding opinion of the European parliament on the EC proposal the Council comprising EU interior ministers will take the official vote and at best case free travel to Schengen area could be possible January 2010. But not for all! European perspective will be true only for some when visa ban still will be existing for some countries or even to some ethnic groups inside a country. Instead of connecting people of western Balkans with western Europe the EC proposal will divide again people according their nationality or location. From EU’s side the reason for division is seen technical related to common standards; from western Balkan’s perspective the reasons for division can be seen political or even related to religion.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

09.02.09: What's up in West-Balkans 2009 - 0 views

  • A lot of interesting marches of progress will take or not take place in West Balkans during 2009. I try to keep my finger on the pulse of developments at least in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia (including Kosovo) where the most interesting events will occur, I suppose. The today’s topics are mostly related to historical past of the region, its different approaches towards EU, its role as playground of international politics and its various domestic tensions. Here I shortly describe few of these issues and their background. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

19.12.08: 2009 shapes up as a weary, dreary year for EU enlargement - 0 views

  • With Croatia, there is less certainty. Quarrels with Slovenia, its former fellow-Yugoslav republic, meant that the EU on Friday concluded only three chapters with Croatia and opened one more. Slovenia blocked further progress.
  • Then there is Serbia. A report by the United Nations war crimes prosecutor this month made it clear that, even if Serbian co-operation with the war crimes tribunal in The Hague had improved, it ought to be even better.
  • Macedonia is stuck, too - over that wearisome dispute with Greece about what its name should be. As for Bosnia-Herzegovina, it will be something of an achievement if it hangs together as a state, never mind about joining the EU. And when Montenegro officially presented its membership application on Monday, there were mutterings on the EU side that this was much too premature.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

06.11.08: Western Balkans still way off EU entry criteria - 0 views

  • EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn made clear yesterday (5 November) that Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Kosovo, are still a long way away from getting clear persprectives of EU accession.
  • In spite of the EU executive's insistence that its assessments are based on objective criteria, the countries in the region are increasingly aware that enlargement is no longer fashionable in the EU, especially in the context of the current financial crisis and uncertainty following the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty by Ireland.  European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering said on Tuesday that "perhaps with the exception of Croatia," no enlargement was possible without the Lisbon Treaty. This statement contradicts strong views, expressed repeatedly by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, that no enlargement whatsoever was possible before the Lisbon Treaty comes into force (EurActiv 20/06/08). In fact, the Nice Treaty provides institutional arrangements for only 27 member states, but some countries believe that it may be possible to find a compromise to accommodate Croatia. 
  • Links European Union European Commission: Enlargement strategy and main challenges 2008-2009 European Commission: Key findings of the progress reports on the candidate countries: Croatia, Turkey and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: European Commission: Key findings of the progress reports on Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Kosovo European Commission: 2009 the year of the Western Balkans European Commission: Croatia 2008 Progress report European Commission: The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 2008 Progress report European Commission: Albania 2008 Progress report European Commission: Bosnia and Herzegovina 2008 Progress report European Commission: Montenegro 2008 Progress report European Commission: Serbia 2008 Progress report European Commission: Kosovo (under UNSR 1244/99) 2008 Progress report
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

AriRusila's BalkanBlog - 0 views

  • Welcome to Arirusila´s BalkanBlog - a personal perspective on events in western Balkans. Topics of interest: Serbia, Kosovo province, EU enlargement, UN peacekeeping operations, crisis management. Other interests - middle East and Caucasus.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

05.03.08: Brussels sees 2008 as decisive for the Balkans - 0 views

  • Brussels has said that this year could be "decisive" for the western Balkan countries and their EU path, if they implement certain reforms.

    If Bosnia and Herzegovina fulfils its political conditions, including the adoption of a state-level political reform, it "should be able to sign" a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) – a first step towards EU membership – in April, EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn reaffirmed when presenting a paper on the western Balkans published by the European Commission on Wednesday (5 March).

    The former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia could get a date for opening EU accession negotiations if it meets "key priorities", including putting in place reforms of the judiciary and the public administration, and implementing a police and anti-corruption law.
  • This year could also be "decisive" for Croatia if it makes "substantial progress" with its judicial and administrative reforms, with the fight against corruption and the restructuring of its ship-building industry.
  • For their part, potential candidates Albania and Montenegro need to build a "convincing track record over the implementation of the SAAs and pursue reforms with determination," while Kosovo must ensure its commitment to a "democratic and multi-ethnic society".
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  • The enlargement commissioner also underlined Serbia's "central" role for maintaining stability in the region, and called on Belgrade to "reaffirm its commitment to closer ties with the EU", following recent statements by some Serbian politicians.
  • On Wednesday, commissioner Rehn also presented a series of proposals designed to further contact between citizens of the Balkans and the EU. These include doubling the number of scholarships for students from the Balkans, opening up EU programmes in science and research, education and culture to countries of the region, and aiming for visa-free travel for every country.
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