EU ministers disagree over expansion into Western Balkans

European Union foreign ministers disagreed on Thursday over a proposal by the bloc’s executive to push for expansion into the Western Balkans. At a meeting in Bulgaria, the EU ministers discussed for the first time the plan by the European Commission that set out 2025 as a goal for Serbia and Montenegro to join the bloc. Hungary’s Peter Szijjarto was “very much disappointed” by that target. The minister said the first two countries from the Western Balkan six should be admitted already in 2022, Reuters reports. Germany, the EU’s leading power, is reluctant, pointing to rule-of-law shortcomings in the newer member states – from Romania and Bulgaria, to Poland and Hungary. Poland, Italy and Austria are among other EU countries in favor of stepping up efforts to open the bloc to the region, where the EU sees “growing Russian and Chinese influence.”