My colleague Alexandra and attended a session of the EPC Balkans Task Force in Brussels, a group of experts assembled by the European Policy Centre. There, I spoke about the Bulgarian experience and recommended:
- to encourage all WB countries to apply for EU membership and become candidates;
- to begin screening in late 2008/early 2009;
- to start negotiations with those that are ready. This will counteract the slow erosion of EU soft power in the region and produce the necessary momentum for the necessary reforms towards.
The next day, Alexandra and I attended a conference called “Five years after Thessaloniki” with Carl Bildt, Dimitri Rupel, Olli Rehn, Michael Leigh (Director-General Enlargement), Stefan Lehne (Director for the Western Balkans in the Council) and many others, and where I gave another presentation on the state of the Balkans. The background to this event was the Western Balkans Communication issued by the Commission the week before.