The European Council and the Western Balkans: Overview of discussions since the Lisbon Treaty

14-05-2018

The Western Balkans have regularly featured on the agenda of the European Council since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009. Three dimensions – enlargement, counter-terrorism and migration – have been at the centre of the EU leaders' discussion of the subject. However, the message has often seemed technical and EU leaders have appeared less inclined to offer a strategic view of future relations between the EU and the Western Balkans. The European Council has held only one strategic debate on the Western Balkans, in March 2017, when it discussed the then deteriorating security situation in the region and agreed to keep it under review. The strategy for the Western Balkans put forward by the European Commission in February 2018 sends a strong political message of openness and inclusiveness to the countries in the region. In April 2018, the Commission’s country reports for Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia recognised the progress made, and supported the opening of accession negotiations. In this context, EU leaders may consider enlargement at their next regular meeting, following a Council meeting on enlargement in June 2018.

The Western Balkans have regularly featured on the agenda of the European Council since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009. Three dimensions – enlargement, counter-terrorism and migration – have been at the centre of the EU leaders' discussion of the subject. However, the message has often seemed technical and EU leaders have appeared less inclined to offer a strategic view of future relations between the EU and the Western Balkans. The European Council has held only one strategic debate on the Western Balkans, in March 2017, when it discussed the then deteriorating security situation in the region and agreed to keep it under review. The strategy for the Western Balkans put forward by the European Commission in February 2018 sends a strong political message of openness and inclusiveness to the countries in the region. In April 2018, the Commission’s country reports for Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia recognised the progress made, and supported the opening of accession negotiations. In this context, EU leaders may consider enlargement at their next regular meeting, following a Council meeting on enlargement in June 2018.