Italy considers the EU enlargement a priority. The rest of Europe does not, and the dossier could become one of the most delicate of our Semester. Sandro Gozi, Under Secretary of the Italian Prime Minister for European Affairs, reiterated today at the General Affairs Council that “the enlargement strategy is crucial” hence “the Italian Presidency is committed in making the negotiations progress, especially for Western Balkans, and in revitalising the enlargement process for Turkey.” The statement clashes with those coming from other European institutions in the last few weeks. At the European Parliament, the EPP head, Manfred Weber, during the first session of the new term said that the integration process for Turkey is expired for his party; the European Commission new President, Jean-Claude Juncker, in the document about the priorities of his programme, said clearly that “no enlargement will take place in the next five years,” even thought the negotiation with Western Balkans “will continue.”
Forward, but in slow motion then. And Italy will be forced to take into account the ideas of the other European institutions. In any case, Gozi confirmed the Semester will be devoted to this issue too, in spite of everything: “The Presidency sees the enlargement as one of the most successful stories. It has been demonstrated that the enlargement is a crucial tool for peace.” Failing true steps forward, Italy will still work on other ways to widen the Union. As explained by the Under Secretary, “we will put our efforts on macroregions, in particular for the strategy of the Adriatic-Ionic and the Alpine Macro-Regions.” The Adriatic-Ionic Macro-Region involves, in addition to Italy, Greece, Slovenia and Croatia (EU States), Albania, Montenegro and Serbia (not EU States, with the status of ‘candidate member’) and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The development of a regional integration could help Balkan countries in their path towards the European Union, waiting for an acceleration of all European Institution towards a new enlargement.