Currently, any EU member state can block the enlargement on 76 occasions. If 76 steps are not enough to improve things in the WB, having 85 or 100 would hardly make a difference. The issue of blocking the process should be tackled. All countries have submitted membership applications and the EU has committed itself to that end. The EU intends to be a geopolitical player and have a strong global voice. It would fail in that attempt if it cannot deliver its promise in the WB, the region that is the most open to the EU and aspires to its membership. Secondly, enlargement requires an intensified political and financial engagement and unambiguous messages by the EU, as well as political leadership and vision on both sides – the EU and WB. Enlargement has made the EU great and enabled its deeper integration. Thirdly, rule of law must remain the pivotal issue and the EU should state this message loud and clear to the public in the WB, rather than delivering it to elites behind closed doors. Elites that fail to share and promote these values should be openly named. The EU must show that there will be no negotiations on fundamental values, since such impression has been made on numerous occasions. This will enhance its credibility as global promoter of democracy and rule of law, and once implemented in the WB, it will instigate good news, rather than (WB) migrants, to start coming from the WB. Enlargement to the WB can be the EU’s finest hour in the upcoming decade, or it can be the sunset of its global aspirations.

 

Text was originally published at The Berlin Process: Information and Resource Centre, Nov. 8, 2019