“You were expecting a welcome mat? Here’s a bucket of cold water instead.

The European Commission’s new strategy for the Western Balkans holds out the prospect that two countries from the region, Serbia and Montenegro, could “potentially” be ready to join the EU by 2025. It also offers increased support for the four other would-be members from the region that was engulfed by war and civil strife in the 1990s.

But it makes clear to politicians in all six countries — Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia — that they will have to get much more serious about establishing the rule of law, cutting out corruption, cracking down on organized crime, settling bilateral disputes and undertaking a range of other democratic changes.

‘Joining the EU is far more than a technical process. It is a generational choice, based on fundamental values, which each country must embrace more actively, from their foreign and regional policies right down to what children are taught at school,’ says the new strategy, obtained by POLITICO ahead of its approval by the Commission on Tuesday.” (Politico)