Join us at the EU table, Balkan aspirants are told

A dozen EU countries want to bring the six western Balkan nations into European Union policy meetings even before they join the bloc, according to a policy paper seen by Reuters, in an effort to improve the bloc’s image in the region.After years of neglecting the six western Balkan countries and looking to counter growing Russian and Chinese influence in the region, the European Commission is set to unveil a plan on Tuesday that lays out how Serbia and Montenegro could become the first of the group to join the EU by 2025.Now 12 EU nations – Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia – want to go further and propose an annual EU summit with the Western Balkan leaders of Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, the paper said.In their 12-point proposal handed to the European Commission in late January, the EU countries also want to allow ministers of Balkan governments to participate in top EU meetings in areas including the environment, health, transport and foreign policy.That would go beyond the ad-hoc meetings and ministerial breakfasts that the EU offers its closest non-member partners.


Source: Join us at the EU table, Balkan aspirants are told