(Strasbourg) “A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans” – this is the title of the “Strategy” adopted by the European Commission today which confirms the “European future of the region” as a “geostrategic investment in a stable, strong and united Europe based on common values”. As she presented the Strategy, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini stressed that stability and development in the Balkans would benefit the entire EU. The Strategy sets out the priorities and identifies the areas for enhanced joint cooperation to address “the specific challenges the Western Balkans face, in particular the need for fundamental reforms and good neighbourly relations”. According to the EU Commission, a “credible enlargement perspective” requires “sustained efforts and irreversible reforms”. The path towards the EU is, however, long, “objective” and “merit-based”, that is, it “depends on the concrete results achieved by each individual country”. The Commission in particular announced six “flagship initiatives”, namely “specific actions that the EU will take over the next years to support the transformation efforts of the Western Balkans in areas of mutual interest”. These range from initiatives “to strengthen the rule of law, reinforced cooperation on security and migration through joint investigating teams and the European Border and coast guard, expanding the EU Energy Union to the Western Balkans or lowering roaming charges and rolling out broadband in the region”. The Strategy also stresses “the need for the EU to be prepared to welcome new members once they have met the criteria”.