The Romanian presidency to the EU is pushing to facilitate EU membership talks with Western Balkan countries – Macedonia and Albania. Romanian EU affairs minister George Ciamba said that boosting ties with Western Balkans was one of the key priorities for his country’s presidency. Mr. Ciamba commented that this regional focus would strengthen and project the idea of unity of the EU27 following the Brexit. He also added that the enlargement process had not moved anywhere since Croatia joined in 2013 – it “is high on our agenda, we are the children of enlargement, we know very much the value of enlargement”.
“For us and Croatia and Bulgaria and Austria, this is a matter that should be moved jointly. It is part of the program of the trio and there we have to use all the opportunities,” the Romanian leader stressed, while also admitting that it was not an easy task. According to Mr. Ciamba, there was still misunderstanding in some member states and European elections were no helping “but there is a window of opportunity and we are ready to do whatever is needed to move the issues, but we’ll need the help of the countries, they should deliver their own reforms.”
Just like Romania, Bulgaria also focused on Western Balkans in the first half of 2018 but the region was less of a priority for Austria, which came after Bulgaria in the second half of 2018. Currently, membership negotiations are under way with Serbia (since 2014), Montenegro (since 2012) and Turkey (since 2005) – out of which the first two countries on the list have been described as fort-runners by EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Talks with Turkey have been slow and stalled especially following the 2016 Turkish coup d’état attempt.