“The European Union wants to show it still cares about the Balkans, but not everyone is feeling the love.

Brussels has been accused for years of not paying enough attention to the six Western Balkan countries that want to join the bloc. After taking office in 2014, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker declared the EU would not take in any new members during his five-year term.

In recent months, though, the EU has rediscovered an interest in the Balkans, after becoming alarmed by attempts from Russia to exert influence there and by deteriorating relations between some countries in a region that was engulfed in war just a couple of decades ago. Officials from Serbia and Montenegro will be in Brussels on Monday to discuss their path to the EU.

EU leaders have begun sending signals that the path to Brussels is still open. Juncker, in his State of the Union address in September, and French President Emmanuel Macron, in his big speech setting out his vision for the future of Europe, both stressed that the bloc has to be open to new members from the Western Balkans.

Juncker and European Parliament President Antonio Tajani are expected to visit the region early next year, according to spokespeople for both leaders. And Bulgaria has said it wants to make helping Western Balkan countries move toward membership a priority of its six-month presidency of the Council of the EU, which starts in January.” (Politico)