The European Union risks losing its influence in the Western Balkans if it fails to send a clear signal for the start of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn told Austrian news agency APA.
“If we do not send a clear signal today or by Thursday’s European Council, considering the two prior delays, then we should not wonder why our influence on the Balkans has diminished,” says Hahn and expresses hope that “reason will prevail” in the issue.
According to Hahn, losing influence on the Balkans cannot be in the Union’s interest, because this is “the yard of Europe”.
“Many are talking about a strong Europe, but if we cannot function in the immediate neighborhood, there is no need to ask the question about our global action,” says Hahn.
He believes that the EU must contemplate using the majority principle in the decision-making process, in order to be proactive rather than reactive.
“European countries have to first solve their issues at home – in this case the Balkans – before being an international player,” said Hahn.