By John Ensor •
Published: 12 Sep 2023 • 9:14
EU President: Ursula von der Leyen.
Credit: Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock.com
Reportedly, the EU is looking to add a further eight countries to its membership, despite tension with Russia following Putin’s Ukrainian land grab.
Amid tensions with Russia, the European Union is considering the inclusion of eight new nations into its fold. The current roster of 27 countries might grow to 35, but insiders caution that this could lead to potential internal disputes, writes GB News.
The six Western Balkan nations – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia – along with Moldova and Ukraine, are the countries in question for EU membership.
Austrian foreign minister Alexander Schallenberg remarked to Politico, ‘This is now the moment to be bold and to change our approach to enlargement — to get the six Western Balkan countries, each and every one of them, and Ukraine and Moldova, clearly into our family.’ He further added, ‘Enlargement is not a bureaucratic endeavour… It’s about exporting and safeguarding a certain model of life of free, open Western democracies.’
Two high-ranking EU officials have indicated that a meeting concerning EU expansion is slated for late October. Both Germany and France, the EU’s primary influencers, have expressed optimism about welcoming more nations.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz mentioned in May, ‘We need a geopolitical EU, an enlarged and reformed EU, and an EU open to the future.’ However, while EU Council President Charles Michel advocated for new members by 2030, an EU Commission spokesperson emphasised that membership is strictly ‘merit-based’.
The discussion about EU expansion is expected to be a focal point in Ursula von der Leyen’s State of the Union address, scheduled two days from now. This speech will also be her final one before the 2024 European elections.
The last time the EU saw such an expansion drive was when Croatia joined in 2013. Turkey’s potential membership in 2011 was halted by then-French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Kosovo’s President, Vjosa Osmani, who declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and sought EU membership the previous year, expressed her support for the expansion. ‘We believe it’s in the interest of all, for all of the Western Balkan countries to join,’ Osmani stated. Yet, she also highlighted the frustration of some nations, noting, ‘It’s hard not to get impatient, especially when you do everything that you’re asked to do and then nothing happens.’
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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