Vienna-based daily Die Presse claims that the EU enlargement process has entered a dead-end street, and that creation of the Balkan Union might be an alternative.

Author of the article, Oliver Grimm, wrote that relations between European Union and Western Balkans needed to be redefined. “We are pretending to have an intention to welcome the Western Balkan countries, and they pretend that they want to join the EU”, the daily reported.

Die Presse noted that the situation is not easy in any of the Western Balkan countries - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia - as “unemployment, poverty, departure of youth, nationalistic narrow-mindedness, and the cynical use of history as a political weapon” were present in all of those countries.

The daily reported that the EU membership prospect had not prevented the situation in the Western Balkans from becoming dangerous more than ever since the end of the Balkan wars over two decades ago, and author concluded that the EU enlargement policy had failed in this regard.

However, Grimm believes that now there is an opportunity for a drastic change of political course, and - after the election for the new European Parliament and the formation of the new European Commission - that the EU might completely give up on the intention to one day make the Western Balkan countries ready for accession.  

Such decision, according to Die Presse, would be a historic mistake, because the EU cannot act in line with the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ principle, and ignore problems at the very border of the Union.

That is why it is necessary to create proposal for new relations between the European Union and the Western Balkans. With an offer: Build a Western Balkan Union within the next ten years, modelled after the EU… and if you can do that, we will welcome you together - rather than in stages, risking that Serbia would block Albania’s admission after joining, or vice versa”, reported Die Presse.