EurActiv.com Correspondent's Choice

This interview about the opinions of The Reflection Group was published on EurActiv on 17th May 2010.

The Reflection Group which recently published a report about the challenges facing Europe between now and 2030 would like 2014 to be the benchmark date by which Western Balkan countries should be given firm assurances on their EU accession, Kalypso Nicolaïdis, a member of the group, told EurActiv in an exclusive interview.

Kalypso Aude Nicolaïdis, a Franco-Greek professor of international relations at the University of Oxford, admitted that the members of the group, chaired by former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González, “didn’t have the room to be more specific” on enlargement.

However, she said all the group’s members were extremely committed to EU membership for the Western Balkans.

Since Bulgaria and Romania joined the bloc in 2007, the EU has been extremely careful not to give dates for concluding accession negotiations with candidate countries or target membership dates to any EU hopeful.

Only Croatia is believed to be able to conclude accession negotiations in the course of this year, ahead of joining the Union in 2012. Other Western Balkan countries such as Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania remain in the dark as to their EU perspectives.

2014 is a symbolic date as it marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. The conflict was triggered on 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo, today’s capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, when a student, Gavrilo Princip, shot dead Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary.

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