Montenegro and Serbia should be ready for EU membership in 2025 and Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Macedonia should be well-advanced on their path to EU accession by then, according to a draft of the European Commission’s Western Balkans strategy seen by RFE/RL.
The strategy, which is expected to be made public on February 6, is part of an EU effort to breathe new life into the accession process for the six Western Balkan countries that remain outside the bloc.
The draft seen by RFE/RL states that “the Western Balkan partners now have a historic window of opportunity” and that “for the first time their accession perspective has a best-case framework” — but adds that the timeline set out in the paper is realistic only if there is “strong political will, delivery of real reforms, and lasting solutions to disputes with neighbors.”
The timeline is “ambitious and is meant to be an incentive,” it says.
According to the document, 2019 will be a crucial year.
Albania and Macedonia should start EU accession negotiations by the end of 2019, provided that Tirana has implemented judicial reform and Skopje has resolved a bitter name dispute with Greece that has dogged the country since it gained independence from the collapsing Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, the document says.