Drag your heels, and they may go elsewhere. As Bulgaria takes up the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, there’s a warning that Western Balkan countries hoping to join the bloc may run out of patience.
Sofia’s clear that one of its key presidency priorities is to resuscitate the membership bids.
“If European leaders will not have this awareness of what is at stake, if they are promising enlargement but not delivering, then we can very quickly lose the region with instability, with economic instability, political instability. We see also growing nationalism somewhere and losing the young generation.”
The European Commission’s due to publish a strategy next month, which is expected to lay foundations for Serbia and Montenegro to become the first candidate countries.
“We need to bring this region to better life, to give perspectives to young people, to open the borders and actually live as good neighbours. It’s about how to increase our credibility not only inside the region, but also as Europe as a whole towards the outside world.”
Heads of state and government will be in Sofia for an informal summit on the Western Balkans in May, as Bulgaria looks to make its mark in the EU’s enlargement.