The European Union has been weakened by Brexit and may need to postpone plans for expansion into the Western Balkans, Slovenia’s President Borut Pahor warned at the Bled Strategic Forum conference.
Pahor was quoted by the British newspaper Express as saying that the EU could not hope to take on the likes of Serbia, Montenegro and Albania as new members in its current state. “A weak EU will not be able to expand to the Western Balkans,” the Slovenian president told the conference which was attended by the European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.
“Everything is connected and we are going through a period in which difficult decisions have to be made”, he said.
The newspaper said that the EU is eyeing up six countries in the Western Balkans – as well as Turkey – as its next new members. Negotiations have already begun with Serbia and Montenegro and the two countries could become fully-fledged EU members by 2025.
The EU also hopes Albania, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Kosovo will be well on their way to joining by then. It recalled that the southeastern Balkans countries are some of the poorest in Europe but that the EU has helped new member states improve their economies.