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Albanian and Serbian leaders call for 'new approach' to EU enlargement

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama spoke to journalist upon arrival at the European Political Community in Granada, Spain.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama spoke to journalist upon arrival at the European Political Community in Granada, Spain. Copyright European Union, 2023.
Copyright European Union, 2023.
By Euronews
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A new approach to joining the European Union is needed, according to both the Prime Minister of Albania and President of Serbia, who bemoaned the length of time the process is taking for their countries.


The two Balkan countries have been waiting on the EU's doorstep for more than ten years, seeing little to no progress in their membership bids.

Speaking to Euronews while attending the European Political Community in Granada, Spain, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said that something in the process had to change, indicating that a tiered system to enter the bloc could be possible.

"We should be realistic and we should not look at the finger while the finger shows the moon and believe that this Europe of 27, that is having a lot of trouble to have compact decision-making, to have strategic thinking and planning, can be enlarged with 33 or 35 or 37 soon," Rama said on Thursday.

"So, instead of nothing or all for us, the non-EU members, a new approach should be found. And this should be considered."

The slow pace of Albania's and Serbia's applications has been linked to a widespread lack of political will to enlarge the bloc, which has not admitted any new members since Croatia joined in 2013.

The two countries, along with six other nations, including Ukraine and Moldova, have been given the candidate status, the necessary prelude to kick-start accession negotiations. Talks, however, have been complex and ridden with ups and downs.

And this is exactly what is causing the frustration of Balkan leaders.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić told Euronews that the status quo – remaining outside the EU – is no longer acceptable.

"It doesn't matter what [changes], because there were some – during different conversations – there were some new ideas," Vučić said in an interview on Thursday.

"Whether we can get first [transport] green lanes, then economic market [access], unique economic market, whatever it is, we need to move. We need to move ourselves. Otherwise, we'll feel bigger fatigue than within European member States."

The eight countries waiting to join the bloc have no clear timeline. And with EU divisions on future enlargement stark, a new approach to membership could very well eventually appear.

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