14 December 2005
Dear Friends of ESI,
The European Council on 16 December in Brussels will be the moment of truth for EU Balkan policy. At this moment it appears that the EU is going to commit a potentially disastrous policy error.
France has declared that it is prepared to veto the approval of Macedonia's candidate status, recommended last month by the European Commission. Instead, it has proposed a new debate as to whether there should be any further EU enlargement at all.
The United Kingdom has proposed a new budget for the EU that would preclude any serious pre-accession assistance for the Western Balkans for the next 7-year budgetary period. The UK proposal could shut the door on further enlargement just as forcefully as a French veto.
Between France and the UK, there is now a distinct possibility that the European Council meeting beginning this Friday (16th December) will not just deny candidate status to Macedonia, but throw the entire European strategy in the Balkans into confusion.
ESI is calling on EU member states not to forget their commitments to the countries of the Balkans, and their vital interest in lasting stability in the region on the eve of Kosovo status negotiations.
At the EU summit this weekend, member states should take the following steps:
As a crisis region, the countries of South Eastern Europe are hopefully of diminishing interest. As the region of the next (and most difficult) European enlargement it is becoming ever more important.
Your ESI team