Remarking on Edward’s post, one commenter writes, “Unlike Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia etc, Croatia is well on its way to the EU.”
Unfortunately for Zagreb, the EU is not on its way to Croatia. At least not with any great speed. I had pegged Croatia to be in by the 2009 elections to the European Parliament. That is not going to happen.
There will be no more enlargement until the EU’s instutitional questions are considerably more settled, and that is going to take longer than this year and next, no matter how energetically and successfully Chancellor Merkel pushes during Germany’s presidency. No more countries will be admitted before the next Parliament is elected.
Croatia’s crucial time window for joining the Union at the same time as Bulgaria and Romania was back in 2004 and 2005. The government at the time did not believe the EU was serious about its political conditions and had its bluff called by Brussels.
The quickest way for Croatia to join now, it seems to me, is not to point out how the country differs from its neighbors, but to build as many links within the region as possible and smooth the path for as many countries as desire to enter the Union. There’s only been one solo enlargement, and I wouldn’t count on Croatia being the second. Leading other candidates, however, is a proven winner.