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Officials from Germany, Poland, Bulgaria and North Macedonia shake hands at the Western Balkans Summit in Poznan, Poland in July 2019

The EU presses pause on Western Balkans enlargement

French President Emmanuel Macron wants to put EU expansion on hold while the bloc reforms itself and the European Commission has downplayed any potential for Western Balkans countries to join the bloc soon. Meanwhile, the region languishes in limbo – the continuous delays make tackling corruption less urgent for their political elites, perpetuating a vicious cycle. Accession now only looks possible by 2030 at the very earliest, and the wait could have disastrous effects for the region.

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