Joining the European Union


A debate at CEPS on November 15th about this year’s European Commission reports on the countries seeking to join the Union was dominated by the issue of Turkey, which has been backsliding on democratic reform. Simon Mordue, Director for Strategy and Turkey at DG NEAR, advised that while many developments following the abortive coup in Turkey in July were unacceptable, it was imperative that the EU remain engaged with Ankara. He suggested that the reintroduction of the death penalty (which may or may not be in preparation) would be the watershed moment to force the EU to reconsider this stance. In general, enlargement is delivering, Mordue said, citing Albania as an example. Even in Bosnia-Herzegovina, held back by “structural problems”, there has been “some progress” on the reform agenda. But Tanja Fajon, a Slovenian MEP from the Socialists & Democrats Group, took issue with this assessment and warned: “We pretend that everything is fine in Bosnia but the country is not functioning.” Across the Balkans, conflicts are festering and the EU is not dealing with them, she said. “In Kosovo, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina – if we don’t manage this, there might be an explosion.”