Slovenia made headlines last year by holding up Croatia’s EU membership negotiations for ten months. Although Croatia is back in the game since October 2009, the episode has left a bitter taste. We explore the background to the Slovenian veto and gauge the extent to which it harmed Croatia’s EU accession process. We also look at the implications of national vetoes for the future of EU enlargement, including the membership bids of Macedonia and Turkey. Read more
While Europe has been steadily growing closer since 1989, most citizens of the Western Balkans are still required to obtain visas in order to travel to the EU. In 2008 the EU has finally formulated a series of strict conditions for all Western Balkan countries not yet enjoying visa-free travel, triggering a series of reforms. What will it still take to lift the visa requirements? What can be done for Kosovo, which is excluded from this process? To find out more, visit our Schengen White List Project section.
The months in the run-up to Bulgaria’s EU accession on 1 January 2007 were dominated by reports of flaws in the judiciary, a tide of organised crime and prevalent corruption. The freezing of EU funds seem to confirm the widespread impression that Bulgaria has entered the EU as a largely unreformed country. What has actually changed in Bulgaria? We look at the environment sector, one of the most demanding chapters of the EU acquis.
In most Western Balkan countries close to or more than half of the population live in rural areas. Deindustrialisation has deprived many rural families of their cash income. With inadequate land plots, little mechanisation, poor infrastructure and little or no government support, many rural families have been forced back into lives of subsistence agriculture. Opening up EU pre-accession programmes on rural development for the Western Balkans offers the best way to address this huge challenge. Read more