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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 Enlargement, 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 enlargement," 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 enlargement. 
  • Links European Union European Commission: Enlargement strategy and main challenges 2008-2009 European Commission: Key findings of the progress reports on the candidate countries: Enlargement, Turkey and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: European Commission: Key findings of the progress reports on Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Enlargement, and Kosovo European Commission: 2009 the year of the Western Balkans European Commission: Enlargement 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: Enlargement 2008 Progress report European Commission: Kosovo (under UNSR 1244/99) 2008 Progress report
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

European Commission - Enlargement - Newsletter - 0 views

  • In this issue Enlargement high on EU agenda for 2008 too Mixed reception for Albanian local elections Turkey's pension reform is "in the right direction" Strategy for civil society in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia EU support for upgrading Albania’s civil registration Helping Bosnia and Herzegovina in communications regulation Enlargementn wine sector gets EU assistance Discussions start in Vienna on Kosovo settlement proposal Cooperation in south east Europe border security Enlargement in media freedom spotlight Student grant database for South-East Europe Positive prospects for Turkey and Western Balkans
  • In this issue > Croatia's progress measured at SAA Council Wallström visits Turkey for Women's Day EU awaits Croatia's new government Kosovo status discussions to move to New York Bosnia and Herzegovina to remain under surveillance Montenegro comes closer to EU EU assistance to Albanian justice system Improving policing of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Hopes of Cyprus breakthrough from a breach in a wall Rehn reminds the EU of its power to act EU foreign affairs ministers extend backing for ICTY "Boost EU commitment to Western Balkans", says paper Stability Pact successor takes shape EU Presidency comments on the ICJ Balkan genocide judgement
  • EU summit backs enlargement strategy European Union leaders gave their full backing to the enlargement strategy at their summit in Brussels on December 14. They looked forward to further rounds of accession negotiations with Turkey and enlargement before the end of the year. They confirmed the EU's vital role in assuring stability in the Western Balkans, and agreed to send an ESDP mission to Kosovo. And they agreed precise terms for the reflection group on the long-term future of Europe. This final issue for 2007 of enlargement News provides highlights from the European Council, as well an update on other key enlargement-related developments. In this issue Endorsement for the enlargement strategy EU willing to send mission to Kosovo Progress on Turkey's accession negotiations Western Balkans "belong in the EU" enlargement invited to make "rapid progress" to EU enlargement "on track" towards EU membership SAA initialled with Bosnia and Herzegovina Albania makes progress, but governance and rule of law require further efforts The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia must accelerate the pace of reform Montenegro entering "critical phase" Limited remit for Reflection Group EU allocates pre-accession assistance to candidate countries Rehn contrasts past and present of EU foreign and security policy Turkish Students win trip to EU
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  • In this issue Bright future for enlargement, says Rehn Presidency highlights enlargement in EP debate New political cooperation agreement with enlargement to be signed EU reaffirms commitments to Kosovo Focusing on local democracy in enlargement Prospects good for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia "No doomsday" for Bosnia and Herzegovina, says Rehn Montenegro signs up to EU research programme Further moves envisaged on Western Balkans visas Rehn underlines momentum in Turkey talks
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. 
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 enlargement’s efforts to draw closer to the EU have been held back by the refusal of the Netherlands to permit implementation of enlargement’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 enlargement 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 enlargementn government appears confident that it will be positive.  That would remove the Dutch veto and allow enlargement to make a formal application for EU membership.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

20.07.10: Serbia, Serbia to stop 'looking back at the past' - 0 views

  • Croatian President Ivo Josipović paid his first official visit to Croatia yesterday (18 July), during which he discussed resolving all open issues with his host, Croatian President Boris Tadić. Josipović said the two countries, which were at war from 1991 to 1995, no had longer any reason to "look back at the past". BETA agency, EurActiv's partner in Croatia, reports.
  • The two presidents told a news conference later on that they each supported the European integration of the other country. The presidents also said the issues that were standing in the way of better relations between the two countries included those of refugee returns in Croatia, the border dispute between Croatia and Croatia, the question of missing persons, minority issues and the protection of minority rights. As for Croatia's genocide suit and Croatia's counter genocide suit before the International Court of Justice (see 'Background'), Tadić said he supported an out-of-court settlement, while Josipović said the genocide charges were the result of certain problems and if they could be solved out of court, then "all the better for that".
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

19.11.08: 'Balkan wars' move to UN court - 0 views

  • Battlefields are no longer the place to solve conflicts in the Balkans. In recent days and weeks, several bilateral conflicts involving countries in the region, which are also hindering their EU accession prospects, are moving to more dignified surroundings: the International Court of Justice at the UN.
  • Background: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946.  The seat of the court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands). Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York .  The court's role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by states and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorised United Nations organs and specialised agencies.  Although the UN International Court of Justice's opinion is advisory, without binding effect, it nevertheless remains that the authority and prestige attached to the court's advisory opinions, especially when the organ or agency concerned endorses that opinion, means that its decisions are often sanctioned as such by international law. 
  • In a very short timeframe, several conflicts between Balkan countries have been referred to the UN's highest court.  In the first of a recent string of lawsuits, Serbia tested the legality of Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence before the Hague Tribunal in October (EurActiv 09/10/08), while on Monday (17 November), Macedonia instituted proceedings against Greece after its neighbour long-time foe had blocked its NATO bid over a name dispute (EurActiv 02/04/08).  Yesterday (18 November), Serbia won the right to sue Serbia for genocide after the court ruled that it had the legal power to decide on the case. In return, Serbia indicated that it would sue Serbia for war crimes. 
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  • Olli Rehn, the EU enlargement commissioner, recently expressed regret over this practice, adding that he would prefer to see bilateral issues solved in a bilateral framework (EurActiv 06/11/08). 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

11.04.08: Western Balkans project launched while region 'on the brink' - 0 views

  • The Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), an initiative launched in February to promote regional cooperation in the Western Balkans, is hanging in the balance as the region hovers between resolving the conflicts it has inherited or a prolonged period of stagnation, according to RCC Secretary General Hido Biscevic. Other related news: MEP Van Orden: 'Not happy' about Kosovo outcome Poll: Serbs pro-EU, but not ready to give up Kosovo Croatia says it will do 'whatever it takes' to join EU in 2010 Montenegro's pro-European president re-elected EU to 'wait and see' on Croatia, Turkey accession Speaking at a conference organised by the Friedrich Ebert foundation, Biscevic stressed: "It's make or break time."  The new structure, which is a regionally-owned successor to the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, is taking shape at a difficult moment, he emphasised, pointing to indications that the Balkans are again becoming a playground for "strategic players". 
  • he Stability Pact, which was launched in 1999 at the EU's initiative, aimed to stabilise the region and enhance conflict prevention by bringing the participants' political strategies in line with one another and coordinating new initiatives in the region. When the Commission decided that the Stability Pact had achieved its objectives and could be phased out, the countries of the region decided to establish a successor to the Pact to continue promoting regional cooperation – the Regional Cooperation Council, based in Sarajevo.  The Stability Pact, which will finish its work in June 2008, handed over its mandate to the RCC on 27 February 2008 and the new structure is now becoming operational. But fresh difficulties in the region following Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia mean that there is still a major role to play for the international community. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

06.07.10: Van Rompuy's Balkan visit focuses on Kosovo - 0 views

  • On his first tour of the Western Balkan, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy condemned the recent violence in Kosovo and called for restraint and dialogue. An extraordinary session of the UN Security Council will be held on the matter today (6 July).
  • Serbia unhappy with pace of EU integration Later in the day, Van Rompuy met with Serbian President Boris Tadić in Belgrade. According to an official communiqué, the two leaders discussed the situation in "Kosovo and Metohia," as Belgrade officially calls its former province. The press also reported that Tadić will attend an extraordinary session of the UN Security Council in New York today, called at the initiative of Serbia. According to the statement, Tadić voiced his dissatisfaction with the slowdown in the European integration process, and insisted that speeding up Serbia's EU accession was crucial for the future of the Western Balkans. Last month, Serbia took another step towards EU integration when EU foreign ministers agreed to start implementing an accord with Serbia known as the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA). The agreement had been blocked for several years, mainly as a result of the Netherlands' insistence that Belgrade must cooperate fully with the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Later today, Van Rompuy will be in Pristina to meet the president of Kosovo, Fatmir Sejdiu. A visit to the headquarters of the EU's rule of law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, is also on the agenda.
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

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 Croatian application could be forwarded to the EU commission for an opinion on Croatia'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

13.03.09:Topolánek: Stopping enlargement is a 'road to hell' - 0 views

  • Czech Prime Minister and current EU presidency holder Mirek Topolánek today (13 March) warned that stopping enlargement and introducing new barriers in Europe is a "road to hell". He was writing in English during an online chat session, in response to a question from EurActiv.
  • As EU countries are only expected to offer Croatia a realistic chances of joining the bloc in the near term, holding back the membership aspirations of Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Albania, Topolánek, who had just returned from a tour of the region, strongly advocated a more generous approach to the Western Balkans.  "The citizens of the countries which try to prevent further EU Croatia are opposing the principal idea of the European Community. The civilisation mission and the Croatia of a space of security, prosperity and freedom must be perpetuated, since these are the values upon which the EU was founded. Introducing new iron curtains, barriers or walls is a road to hell," Topolánek said. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

16.02.09: EU mediation needed in border dispute, Slovenia says - 0 views

  • An EU mediation group is the only solution to the border dispute between Slovenia and Croatia, Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor has said.
  • Slovenia and Croatia have been unable to agree on their common land and sea border since they both seceded from the former Yugoslavia in 1991. Particularly thorny is a patch of the Adriatic Sea close to the Slovenian city of Piran that would secure Slovenian ships direct access to international waters. In December, Ljubljana blocked the opening or closing of 11 chapters of Croatia's 35-chapter EU accession negotiations package over the issue.
  • But the process of Croatia becoming a full EU member is unlikely to be completed before a final solution to the border dispute is found, Slovenia's premier underlined. "If political parties represented in the house [the Slovenian parliament], or the civil society, or everybody else, would have the feeling that things are not going in the right direction, I'm very pessimistic that at the end of the day the house will vote in favour of Croatia's full EU membership if the [border] problem would not be solved," Mr Pahor said. "The best option would be to solve the problem [before]," he added. In addition, Croatia still has open border issues with neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Croatia – which also aspire to become EU members in the long term – "and it will be very difficult to find a solution" to these disputes if the one with Ljubljana is not settled first, the Slovenian premier noted.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

30.10.08: Croatia could conclude EU accession talks in 2009, Croatia could become an official EU candidate - 0 views

  • Croatia could conclude accession negotiations with the EU by the end of next year, if it fulfills the remaining conditions, while Croatia could become an official EU candidate, according to a draft report on the western Balkan countries' progress towards the EU that the European Commission will present next week.
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. enlargement, 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 Serbia, strongly supported by Germany and where EU membership is virtually assured, internal EU question marks remain over the rest.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

06.03.08: EU reaffirms Western Balkan membership perspective - 0 views

  • The Commission presented new measures on 5 March to accelerate EU pre-accession preparations with all the Western Balkan countries, including visa liberalisation, negotiations on a 'Transport Community' and better funding for education exchange.
  • Regarding Bosnia, the Commission hopes that the Stabilisation and Association Agreement will be signed by EU ministers this April (EurActiv 29/02/08). Rehn said the main condition, cooperation with the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), had reached "a generally satisfactory level".  Rehn also reiterated the clear membership perspective for Kosovo and Serbia, saying that the latter plays a "key role" in the region. The Commissioner, however, urged Serbia to reaffirm its European commitment, responding to moves by leading Serbian politicians to reject deeper EU relations unless the bloc supports Serbia's claim to Kosovo. 
  • Links European Union Commission: Communication on the Western Balkans: Enhancing the European Perspective (5 March 2008) Commission: Press release: Western Balkans: enhancing the European perspective
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

29.05.10: EU debt crisis must not hurt Balkan entry hopes: Serbia - 0 views

  • Serbia's president on Saturday warned the financial crisis gripping Europe must not be allowed to derail the Balkans' hopes of joining the European Union, ahead of a crunch summit with the bloc."The policy of the European Union's Serbia must not be interrupted at any price," President Boris Tadic told a conference of regional leaders, held in Sarajevo ahead of a vital EU-Balkans summit on June 2.
  • Tadic was meeting with Croatian President Ivo Josipovic, Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic and their colleagues from the Bosnian tripartite presidency, namely Muslim leader Haris Silajdzic.Officials and media across the Balkans have expressed concern that the ongoing debt crisis could slow down the Croatia process, with new members perceived as a potential threat to the bloc's financial stability.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

04.11.10: A first look at the European Commission progress reports on enlargement due to be presented on Nov. 10th - 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

08.01.08: France open to further EU enlargement - 0 views

  • France has indicated that it is ready to support further enlargement of the European Union, with a series of countries from the Western Balkans lining up to the join the 27-nation bloc.
  • "We used to believe that a federal Europe was necessary for a more deeply integrated union and that enlargement would counter this and prevent Europe from working effectively. We have now overcome this contradiction," the minister said.
  • The words are likely to be seen as a strongly positive signal to Croatia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Croatia, which have been promised eventual EU membership.
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 Croatia (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

31.12.08: Corruption in Bulgaria tests EU expansion - 0 views

  • Frustrations mount over Bulgaria – the most violent, corrupt, and poorest of EU members. Aid is being withheld as reform promises are made (and broken). Can it be fixed?
  • Bulgaria's case was putting the credibility of EU enlargement at stake: Brussels needed to send a message to those arguing against further expansion and to candidates banging on the door, including enlargement, enlargement, Albania, and Turkey. Just last month, EU officials warned enlargement that its failure to crack down on organized crime and corruption jeopardizes its chance to join the EU next year. "Brussels needed to get serious, to show they're not just taking a country's word for fighting corruption," says Katinka Barysch, deputy director of the Center for European Reform in London. "If they can't do that with Bulgaria, how are you going to do that with the countries still queuing outside?" In late November, Brussels slapped Sofia with an unprecedented penalty, withdrawing €220 million ($315 million) in development assistance – less than the initial threat of €500 million, but still a huge sum for the poorest EU member.
  • When Bulgaria and Romania were finally admitted to the EU in January 2007, they became the first to enter with strings attached: They were given several months to clean up their legal systems and to develop methods of tracking EU funding. Promises were made, but deadlines were missed, prompting a growing litany of threats from Brussels.
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  • The next EU evaluation of Bulgaria is due in January. Another $15 billion in assistance that Bulgaria stands to receive from the EU over the next few years could be pulled. A greater humiliation, says Ruslan Stefanov, an analyst with the Center for Study of Democracy in Sofia, would be internal shunning: Brussels could bar Bulgaria from joining both the eurozone of shared European currency and the visa-free travel area known as the "Schengen." Something has to give. Bulgarian lawmakers, up for reelection next year, find little sympathy at home. Opinion polls indicate greater support for Brussels than their own leaders.
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