Poland has vocally supported European Union expansion to include the Western Balkans, with Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro all aspiring to join the bloc.
The summit on Thursday aims to better connect Western Balkan states with each other and with European Union countries through investment in infrastructure.
Poland’s PAP news agency quoted a top European Union official as saying that the bloc is the Western Balkans’ “only solid partner”.
The official, whose name PAP did not disclose, said a decision on whether to start official accession talks with Western Balkan nations could be made at a summit in Brussels in June.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has in the past said that the European Union needs to accept Western Balkan states in order the avoid a war in the region, PAP reported.
Poland, Italy and Austria want the quick accession of Western Balkan nations.
But some European Union member states do not want the bloc to expand too quickly.
France has said that the European Union should undergo internal reforms to ensure “better functioning” of the bloc before any new countries join.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday said he supported Western Balkan nations’ aspirations to join the bloc but added that “great care and discipline” was needed while integrating the countries with the rest of the community.
The Western Balkans region is grappling with economic and social problems such as corruption and organised crime, PAP reported.
Some critics have also pointed to a lack of respect for the rule of law in some of those countries, PAP added.
Some Western Balkan states are also still at odds with each other after conflict in the 1990s left issues of national boundaries and state names unresolved, PAP reported.
Five of the European Union’s existing 28 members – Spain, Greece, Slovakia, Romania and Cyprus – do not recognize Kosovo as a state independent of Serbia, while Athens and Skopje are at loggerheads over the right to the name Macedonia.
Another European Union-Western Balkans summit is to be held in 2020. (vb/pk)