EU Integrations

The untold story behind Bosnia’s EU membership application

More than seven years ago, Bosnia’s neighbors, Montenegro and Serbia, applied for EU membership. Since then, Bosnian politicians have openly considered doing the same on several occasions: first in 2009, and then again in 2010 and 2012. But they never went through with it – until 15 February 2016, when Bosnia finally submitted its...

Business as EUsual with difficult stYUdents

Only in the 1990s has the European future of what is now known as the Western Balkans been bleaker than nowadays. After the ‘democratizing turn’ in 2000, the year marked by regime changes and political commitments to democracy, open society, free market economy, and European Union (EU) integration, the people living in this southeastern corner of Europe believed that a brighter future was ahead of them. The EU policy-makers dealing with enlargement still had their hands full attempting to prevent inter-ethnic conflicts, mediate...

Kosovo’s SAA: sign of change in relations with EU non-recognizers?

Disagreements over Kosovo used to be among the most flagrant examples of how difficult it is to operate a common EU foreign policy.  Consequently, does Kosovo signing the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU on 27 October in Strasbourg signal some shift in the respective positions of the five EU members that do not recognize this country's independence? Or does it merely illustrate the fact that Brussels has found a way to go around them?

This blog post looks at the case of Slovakia which, along with Greece, has been the most flexible of...

Kosovo - The Need for an Effective Competition Policy

The implementation of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between Kosovo and the European Union is expected to start in 2016. SAA Article 75 is about Competition and other Economic Provisions. Considering article 75, within a few years, Kosovo is expected to implement effectively competition policy, in line with the EU Acquis and experience.

The effectiveness of competition policy is first of all defined by the actual outcomes of investigation...

Small steps and (not so) great expectations. Notes from the Vienna Summit

The Viennese Hofburg makes for a grand setting for any summit. When Western Balkan governments met with EU officials and representative from some EU member states, most notably Germany and Austria, but also Croatia, Slovenia and Italy, the planned signal was to show that EU enlargement is alive, as is regional cooperation. In comparison to the first such summit last year in Berlin, the Vienna summit comes after a host of regional meetings that some have joked that the prime ministers of the region see each other more often than their own ministers. Regional cooperation has picked up steam...

The end of conditionality in Bosnia-Herzegovina?

At their monthly meeting in Brussels on March 16, the European Union’s foreign ministers are expected to decide that a pre-accession agreement with Bosnia-Herzegovina should take effect. With the stroke of a pen, the foreign ministers will discard the notion that EU conditionality might be used to propel constitutional reform in Bosnia, reversing a policy that has been in force for many years.

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EU enlargement, the (meagre) results of the Italian EU Council Presidency

On January 13, with the handover to Latvia, the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union has reached its end. And also with regard to EU enlargement policy, the results of the semester remain meagre. The only formal step ahead for the countries of the Western Balkans towards European integration has been the opening of four new chapters of negotiations with Montenegro, in addition to the launch of the Adriatic-Ionian macro-regional strategy. Serbia and Albania, the major countries of the region, are not moving, nor are Macedonia, Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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Time for a different approach to enlargement: can accession in the Western Balkans be given a new impulse for change?

The Western Balkans accession process is getting some new energy and commitment these days, but not from the 'usual suspects' responsible for enlargement negotiations and reforms. A group of academics and analysts from the region and further afield in Europe, united in the platform entitled 'Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group' have produced a new policy paper, containing an analysis of the state of...

How to Reinvigorate the EU Enlargement of the Western Balkans?In search of Scenario E

The EU enlargement policy towards the Western Balkans is increasingly losing its relevance. Some of the local leaderships have entirely abandoned the reform process (notably, in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), while an overwhelming majority of the EU members have turned their attention towards other questions. The European societies are growing more and more unenthusiastic about any new rounds of enlargement, and some skeptics have even alluded to the idea of scrapping the DG Enlargement altogether in the next European Commission.

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The EU and the Balkans in Thessaloniki, 11 years later. What went wrong?

In 2003, during the Greek Presidency of the EU Council, the European Union confirmed its project of political integration of the Western Balkans, officially declaring at the Thessaloniki Summit that "the future of the Balkans is within the European Union." It was a time of euro-enthusiasm, between the introduction of the common currency and the upcoming eastern enlargement. The hope was that by 2014, the centenary of the First World War, all the countries of the Western Balkans could achieve the same result.
Eleven years later, the situation is less encouraging. The enlargement...

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