The doors to the EU look like they will remain closed to would-be members in the Western Balkans for a while longer. The European Commission has signalled they can hope for accession only in the medium to long-term future. The only country in the region to have formally started talks on joining, Croatia has been told it needs to improve its judiciary, public administration and the fight against corruption.
More reforms are needed in Bosnia, Montenegro,and Macedonia, according to the Commission which, in its annual progress report, has ruled out another so-called “big bang” following the simultaneous accession of 10 countries in 2004.
Stumbling blocks standing in the way of Serbia’s entry include its failure to arrest one of the world’s most wanted men – war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic. As for EU hopeful Albania, the poorest country in southeastern Europe, today’s report notes uneven progress on democracy and the rule of law and insufficient advances in reforming the judiciary.