The European Commission will present its Communication on the 2019 EU enlargement policy with the accompanying Country Reports on 29 May. Despite being arguably the EU’s most successful foreign policy achievement, never before has its enlargement policy been the subject of so much ambivalence and negative sentiments, whether it is from public opinion within the EU or from a number of individual member states’.
While the accession negotiations with Turkey are to all intents and purposes suspended due to the increasingly authoritarian rule in that country, the accession prospects for the Western Balkans have also suffered. The lack of effective follow up to the European Commission’s landmark 2018 Strategy Paper setting out an ambitious programme for a “credible enlargement perspective” for the region, and the failure of last year European Council to endorse the European Commission’s recommendations for the opening of negotiations with both North Macedonia and Albania, have raised questions as to the continued credibility of the EU’s enlargement strategy.
On the eve of the June European Council and with a new Commission due to take up office in November, this year’s Communication on the EU’s enlargement policy takes on added significance on the approach the EU will take over the coming years, and whether the commitments towards the Western Balkan region will be respected.