Thursday, 24 April 2008

Kosovo seeks EU membership by 2015

EUobserver is reporting today that Kosovo has set its sights on joining the EU in 2015 and is seeking a clear signal from a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers next Tuesday in Luxembourg. From the discussions I had while I was in Pristina a couple of months ago it was made very clear to me that EU accession is a top priority for Kosovo with the EU seen as a key vehicle for providing Kosovo with security and stability.

Montenegro has already prepared its draft application for EU membership and will be seeking candidate status this year, after having signed a bilateral agreement with the EU on Montenegro's entry into the WTO. Ahead of the Western Balkans pack is Croatia which is hoping to conclude its membership negotiations with Brussels by 2009 and become the EU's 28th member state by 2011.

Of course all of this is likely to be made much easier by the French Government's decision yesterday to approve plans for constitutional reform that would see the scrapping of a previous mandatory obligation for all future EU enlargements after Croatia to be submitted to a referendum in France. This had been introduced back in 2005 and was seen as being aimed at Turkey in an attempt to reassure French public opinion about their concerns over any further EU enlargement especially in the run-up to the French referendum on the EU Constitution, which in the end failed. Under the proposal, the decision on whether or not to approve a country's accession to the EU can be taken either by referendum, or by the French Congress (this comprises the National Assembly and Senate), which would have to approve it by a three-fifths majority.

In any event I look forward to the day when Scotland can take its rightful place at the top table alongside many of our neighbours as well as the countries of the Western Balkans.

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