European Union (EU) enlargement is in crisis because France is blocking it and this is the moment to think about alternative solutions, Balkans expert Florian Bieber said in N1's Newsroom programme.
“Current enlargement process doesn't give results, doesn't help the reform process in the region. We need new ideas. We proposed having the Western Balkans integrated sector by sector. That would be some sort of an exercise for the EU, the way to integrate the Western Balkans today already,” said Bieber, who teaches Southeast European History and Politics at the University of Graz.
According to him, the enlargement process is in crisis as France is blocking it and the time has come to think about alternative solutions.
“But it has to be seen what is EU going to do with the countries that are in negotiations already and what is going to happen with the ones that have no status yet,” he added.
Commenting on the initiative to form a ‘Mini Schengen’ area in the region, launched by Bosnia's Foreign Trade Minister Mirko Sarovic, which would enable free movement of goods, people, capital and services, Bieber said that this system cannot be functional without Kosovo being included too.
“That can never be a replacement for the EU membership, whose member states are the largest trade partners. ‘Mini Schengen’ is good in terms of regional cooperation and the possibility for citizens to travel within the region. But, without Kosovo it cannot be functional,” stressed Bieber, adding that this initiative is good but it would not change the essential pace and needs of the region.