European Commission publishes progress report on Western Balkans

Friday, October 16, 2009

The European Commission (EC) published its annual progress report on the Western Balkans and Turkey on Wednesday.

The Berlaymont building in Brussels, headquarters of the European Commission
Image: JLogan.

In the report, the EC said that Croatia could wrap up its membership talks in 2010, but the other Balkan countries have more work to do. The report provides no entry date for Croatia.

Croatia will need to pursue its reform efforts.

European Commission

"Croatia will need to pursue its reform efforts, in particular on the judiciary and public administration, the fight against and organised crime, and minority rights. If Croatia meets all outstanding benchmarks in time, the accession negotiations could be concluded next year," the report read.

Brussels criticised the EU-hopefuls over widespread corruption and shortcomings in the judiciary in the document. The commission urged Turkey to step up political and economic reforms, to improve the rights of minorities, women and trade unions, as well as to normalise relations with Cyprus.

The report notes that Serbia, Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo are making uneven progress, and Serbia has a strong administrative capacity to implement the necessary reforms.

The EC recommended that the 27-nation bloc start accession talks with Macedonia, as the country has made "convincing progress", EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said in Brussels while presenting the report. In a separate document, the EC proposed that the EU step up its ties with Kosovo by offering visa-free travel to its citizens when the conditions are met.