Why this story matters:
"I hope we will enter the EU before it falls apart," Serbian foreign affairs minister Ivica Dačić has said. Whether or not he was being ironic, Dačić hit the essence of the challenge.
The refugee crisis, the rise of anti-EU populism, and Brexit -- to name only a few recent EU crises -- has shaken the European family to the core. The EU has never been more vulnerable.
Yet the turbulence has led to a new accession strategy for the Western Balkans. It involves Serbia and Montenegro being the next EU members and encourages other Western Balkans on their "European path."
Meanwhile, the EU is trying to get some positive publicity from the accession strategy and prevent further expansion of Russian, Turkish and Chinese influence in the region.
Will politicians from the Western Balkans use the possiblility of accession to make electoral claims? Definitely. Is this risky accession worth the EU's efforts? Probably not.
Details from the story:
- The strategy for "credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans" was adopted by the European Commission on Feb. 6.
- Serbia and Montenegro might be the next countries to enter the EU, possibly by 2025.
- According to the EU, Albania and the Republic of Macedonia are making significant progress on their European path, and the European Commission says it's ready to take the first steps to open accession negotiations.
- The EU noted that it will start preparing an opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina's membership application after it receives comprehensive and complete answers to its questionnaire.
- Kosovo has an opportunity for sustainable progress by implementing the Stabilization and Association Agreement.