Balkan leaders blasted European Council President Charles Michel’s 2030 target for EU enlargement.
EU candidate countries accused the Brussels institutions of shifting the goalposts and expressed a number of concerns with Michel’s timeline.
Speaking at a forum in Bled, Slovenia, on Monday, the Council chief indicated that the EU should be ready to accept new members in 2030 in a bid to re-energize the EU’s enlargement debate. But his words were met with annoyance from Western Balkan leaders and the European Commission, which refused to endorse the target.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama expressed doubts that his country will be ready to join by 2030 — but he pinned the blame on Brussels for that.
“There should not be only reforms and criticism that are necessary, but also the most consistent support, and I’m not talking only from the financial point of view, but also the market access of our enterprises,” the Albanian leader said, noting that the EU is lagging behind the U.S. and China in its financial support for infrastructure in the region.
Some Balkan nations have been EU candidate countries for years, prompting concerns in the region that Brussels does not want them to join the club. But Russia’s war in Ukraine has revived the debate on enlargement, which will be discussed by EU leaders at an informal gathering in Spain in October.
Speaking in Bled, Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabić accused the EU of shifting the goalposts and dragging its feet on EU enlargement.
“The first reason is that the process takes so long, and there is no end in sight. The second is that the criteria or what you need to do to progress are constantly changing,” she said.
Her Montenegrin counterpart Dritan Abazović also criticized the EU for not keeping its promises in the Balkans.
“It is not fair that we are asked to do something, and then, after doing it, they say: ‘That’s good, but now is not the moment for something,’” he said.
“2030 is too far for us,” Abazović added, referring to Michel’s target.
Source : politico