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"Enlargement? In five years there will be no Europe...", or at least this is what many young people have been telling me, since I arrived in Germany three months ago.
The impact of the economic crisis is still being felt on our way to recovery, but despite comments made by skeptics, step by step the conditions are becoming more favorable for admitting new members to the Union and strengthening the European Project.
After a declaration made by Juncker last July, that there will be no expansion of the EU during the next five years, we can't predict when another country will join the Union. The only thing we can do is try to analyze, through analysis and facts, which the next country to enter the Union will be. Pretty much as we do every four years trying to predict the next champion of the football World Cup.
Let us go to the facts:
Albania and Macedonia
Both of them are candidates but they have not started negotiating their entry as they are not yet qualified properly to do it. So, they still have a part of the track to run and whether or not I consider that their admission possible, I am certain that they will not be the first.
Iceland had already submitted their application, and had high hopes of entering the Union. However, the economic crisis suffered since 2009 has discouraged Reykjavik. The fisheries resources also play a vital role in Iceland’s decision - the government is afraid of losing total control over them.
The accession to the Schengen Area is an incentive for Icelanders to negotiate, however they have decided to halt their admission application for an undetermined time and it will be activated again after a national referendum on the application. Icelanders have literally put their application in the freezer.
In the case of Turkey I will go straight to the point like I presented it some nights ago at a dinner: Definitely NO.
I heartily wish the best for the Turkish people and their accession to the Union, which has been intended for many years, but the core reason here is the denial from Turkey to leave Cyprus, which was stated as a condition for the Turkish accession, together with the recognition of Cyprus as a state. It would be an incoherence for a new member to not recognize another member of the Union.
Let us not pretend to block the sun with a finger as some attempt to do in their speeches. Turkey has for a long time been in the position of playing a gambit: sacrificing North Cyprus to enter the European Union. I would not reduce my idea to anything else. As long as the problem in Cyprus is not solved, Turkey will not be able to enter the Union, and they know it.
The current political interest in Turkey is clearly pointing toward other directions rather than their admission in Europe, and according to Turkish young professionals, North Cyprus is a matter of high national interest. Turkey has decided that they will not leave Northern Cyprus.
The negotiations with Turkey are expected to continue for a long time, eight years at least. Nevertheless the gambit is there. It is a decision of the Turkish government to play it, or to lose the game.
After the negotiations and conflicts in the last decade for their admission in the European Union, Serbia is presenting now a more favorable panorama.
They faced problems about Kosovo, opposition from the Netherlands and some requirements that had to be met to have their application admitted. Serbia yielded in the negotiations, because they clearly want to be admitted in the Union.
Serbia’s negotiations are open and this month they had the first intergovernmental conference in Brussels.
Montenegrins are great supporters of their admission to the Union, having the approval of almost its entire population and the adoption of the Euro for many years. After their independence from Serbia things are working well for Montenegro, but it has to put an eye on national judicial and ecological situations that might put their admission into question.
After reflecting on the facts it is clear that for the six candidates things are going at different paces. Albania and Macedonia still have a road to be walked; Iceland is possible, but it depends more on its internal will than anything else; Turkey is a clear no, unless they decide to sacrifice their position in North Cyprus for a greater benefit.
Serbia and Montenegro are the top candidates to be admitted in the European Union when it reopens its expansion in five years. Both of them have more conditions in their favor.
Now, it is just a matter of time to see how the European Union will involve Serbia and Montenegro when the sun sets on Juncker’s Commission.