The European Union must be ready to enlarge by 2030 if it wants to remain "credible", European Council President Charles Michel said Monday at the Bled Strategic Forum in Slovenia, APA reports citing Euronews.
"As we prepare the EU’s next strategic agenda, we must set ourselves a clear goal. I believe we must be ready — on both sides — by 2030 to enlarge," Michel said to an audience that included the leaders of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro and North Macedonia, all official candidates for EU accession.
"This is ambitious, but necessary. It shows that we are serious," Michel said.
The geopolitical impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine has forced the EU to revive its dormant enlargement policy, as countries in Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans look to Brussels for closer integration with the West.
Three countries - Ukraine, Moldova and Bosnia and Herzegovina - have gained candidate status since the start of the invasion in February 2022, while engagement with the other five candidate countries has intensified. Ukraine’s path to membership is seen as the most critical for ensuring a geopolitical European Union, but it is also the most politically fraught.