EU's summit with Western Balkan nations promises path to membership

EU's summit with Western Balkan nations promises path to membership
By Robert Hackwill
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Summit reiterated objectives set 15 years ago, and reaffirmed determination to bring the Balkans into the EU family, but the post-summit press conference ranged further afield, to transatlantic relations, and Iran.


The EU's summit with the Western Balkan nations has seen a clutch of bilateral deals signed between both the EU and between neighbour states, and a reaffirmation that Brussles is commited to helping all on a path to EU membership.

But it was international affairs, namely transatlantic relations and Iran, that dominated the post-summit press conference.

"As to the Iran nuclear deal, we agreed unanimously that the EU will stay in the agreement as long as Iran remains fully committed to it. Additionally the Commission was given a green light to be ready to act whenever European interests are affected," said the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk.

For European interests, read trade, and US tariffs.

"If Europe obtains an unlimited exemption from the proposed tariff measures, we are ready to engage in talks with out transatlantic partner," said the European Commission's President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Juncker offered concessions to America, opening the EU market to US goods and companies in several areas. But relations with Washington have become increasingly problematic, as Tusk noted ruefully.

"I think that the real geopolitical problem is not when you have an unpredictable opponent or enemy or partner, the problem is when your closest friend is unpredictable," he said.

Some Americans might counter Europe is being entirely predictable by seeking to protect its interests rather than accept Washington's allegations Iran is cheating on the nuclear deal, and sanction its behaviour in Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon.

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