EU Integrations

What Will the European Elections Bring the Western Balkans?

The European elections of 22-25 May 2014 have generated unprecedented media attention inside and outside of the European Union (EU). Despite the fact that the lack of serious election campaigns in most EU countries confirms the enduring ‘second-order’ status of the European elections,’ i.e. secondary in importance to national parliamentary elections, the national and international media attention reflects the EU’s increased role in the lives of people inside and outside of its territory. This relevance is probably nowhere as big as it is in Southeastern Europe, where most countries are in...

Regional Cooperation: A Prelude to Greater European Integration

1989 was a year of predictions. Fukuyama spoke of the “end of history,” while Samuel Huntington, in his controversial article in Foreign Affairs, posited that the world is dominated by religious and cultural conflicts or fault lines, which will determine future struggle. All these theories and predications illustrate the problem of the post-Cold War order, but offer no solutions.

In addition to the 28 countries of the European Union (EU), there are still many levels of the European integration process, such as the European Free Trade Association, in which...

Montenegrin accession talk in the prism of the new negotiating rules

The enhanced negotiation framework of the EU enlargement policy towards the Western Balkan (candidates and potential candidates) countries is based on specific, so-called, seven "C" principles. The "conditionality, consolidation, and communication" principles were defined in the 2005 Enlargement strategy: consolidation of the EU commitments on enlargement; application of fair and rigorous conditionality; and better communication of the enlargement policy towards citizens, both in EU and in candidate and potential candidate countries. It is essential to foster understanding and...

EU Conditionality Curve and State Capacities in the Balkans

What do the Western Balkan countries have in common two decades after the violent ethnic conflicts that characterised the dissolution of Yugoslavia, and more than a decade into the use of enlargement conditionality? Why do they still lag behind and show resistance to substantial sectors of the Copenhagen criteria?

Most academics and practitioners working on bloody ethnic conflicts of the 1990s, ongoing ethnic-religious cleavages, and stabilization concerns, might still be tempted to identify regional stabilization and ethno-national divisions as the main problem. Indeed,...

A new approach to economic governance and growth in the Western Balkans

In its Enlargement strategy 2013-2014, the European Commission emphasised the need to address fundamentals first. Particular importance has been given to taking a new approach to the economies of the enlargement countries. In light of the global economic crisis, and in particular public dissatisfaction with the general socio-economic situation, as so visibly demonstrated by the recent protests in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we want to continue to support the Western Balkan countries in meeting the challenges of creating jobs, enhancing competitiveness and boosting growth.

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Ukrainian crisis and EU enlargement in Western Balkans

The Ukrainian crisis will have significant consequences for the future of the European periphery, which is now increasingly becoming an arena for competing powers. The game started with EU and Russia, but it quickly involved the United States too. In its foreign policy, Russia seems to be unimpressed with the EU, but not with the US. Whether with or without the involvement of EU, the future structure of the international system in the outskirts of Europe is likely to become bipolar, with significant elements of multipolarism. The European core – including the territory of current EU – is...

Reconciliation and European Integration

Efforts to come to terms with the conflicts of the 1990s and achieve genuine reconciliation are progressing extremely slowly in the Western Balkans. Compared to other post-conflict situations – such as the post-WWII period - the record is, frankly, disappointing. At the same time, however, relations among the Western Balkan countries have become considerably more normal on the economic, cultural and societal levels. This also represents an important part of the healing process. Progress towards EU enlargement can not only be a powerful force for promoting this normalization, but...

Thorny Path to the EU Membership

Integrating the countries of the Western Balkans into the European Union (EU) has become the priority of the European Enlargement policy. The EU’s commitment towards a European future for these states has been maintained since the Thessaloniki summit in 2003. This particular milestone paved the way for an EU accession, and granted all Western Balkans countries the possibility of gaining potential candidate status.

The accession of Croatia last year showed that the EU kept its promise to integrate the Southeast European countries, even in difficult economic and...

Forgetting Enlargement

Not long ago, the DG for Enlargement moved to a new address, from 200 to 15, Rue de la Loi, Brussels. What seems like a question of logistics, not policy, matters. Never in the past twenty years has enlargement fallen to such a low priority for the European Union. The old address of the Directorate General for Enlargement was the Berlaymont, the centre of the Commission—symbolizing the centrality and importance of the enlargement process for the EU. Now, it is housed in a non-descript office building a few hundred meters away. This symbolic removal from the center of EU and the Commission’...

Lack of Clarity and Credibility in the EU Rule of Law Conditionality

Over the past fourteen years, EU policy makers have placed a growing emphasis on the rule of law and particularly the reform of the judiciary in the transition countries of the Western Balkans (WB) region. The EU’s strategy of promoting rule of law in the WB relies on the demand to comply with certain political criteria, in combination with the supply of institutional ties, technical, and economic assistance. The accession process generates unique, broad-based, and long-term support for the establishment of the rule of law in the candidate states. The most visible instrument for the...

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