The war in Ukraine has accelerated the need for Brussels to stabilise its eastern borders.
The completion of the enlargement process is a three-level mission. The first is to fully include Bulgaria and Romania within the internal border-free Schengen area. The second, to integrate the official candidates from the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia) into the EU. As for the third challenge, the EU has to start the accession negotiations process with three former Soviet countries: Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
Full membership of the EU has assured a rather stable transition to parliamentary democracy and a market economy for countries and people that used to live under socialist authoritarian regimes, especially thanks to EU funds.
Though there are still some things to be ironed out in terms of the rule of law and social cohesion, the EU seems to have reached its initial main goal, namely to avoid a complete economic and political collapse that could have turned Central and Eastern Europe into a continental black hole.
Yet, the enlargement process that occurred between 2004 and 2007 took place under favourable circumstances: the EU and the US economies were growing while Russia was much less assertive.
Things changed dramatically after 2008, with the financial crisis, the Russian invasion of Georgia and the migration crisis stemming from the failure of the "Arab Spring".
Unemployment, the reduction of financial resources (even before COVID) and the cost of living within the EU have pushed European decision makers to slow down the final steps of EU enlargement.
The war in Ukraine and fears of an uncontrolled escalation of the conflict with Russia have widened the gap among EU member states when it comes to policies concerning the bloc’s eastern flanks.
The editor in chief of Euronews Romania, Andra Miron Diaconescu, has presented a pan Euronews' galaxy talk show on the EU Enlargement and its challenges.
Guests of the program: Marina Stoimenova and Bojan Brkić, editors in chief of Euronews Bulgaria and Euronews Serbia, respectively, Euronews Georgia's journalist Nino Patsuria, Euronews Albania presenter and senior reporter, Franko Egro,and Sergio Cantone, reporter from Euronews central news room.