The Western Balkans and EU Enlargement: Lessons learned, ways forward and prospects ahead

05-11-2015

Twelve years after the Thessaloniki promise that the future of the Balkans is within the European Union, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, fYRoM, Montenegro, and Serbia remain excluded with no foreseeable accession date in sight. Despite initial success, the current approach to enlargement has reached its limits, as it seems to be slowing down the integration process rather than accelerating it. In the meantime, in addition to the democratic and economic setbacks in the region, renewed tensions are threatening to undermine fragile regional stability. Moreover, the EU’s unfinished business in the Balkans opens the door to various political, economic and security alternatives. This is precisely why the main message of this study is that the current autopilot mode of enlargement cannot continue.

Twelve years after the Thessaloniki promise that the future of the Balkans is within the European Union, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, fYRoM, Montenegro, and Serbia remain excluded with no foreseeable accession date in sight. Despite initial success, the current approach to enlargement has reached its limits, as it seems to be slowing down the integration process rather than accelerating it. In the meantime, in addition to the democratic and economic setbacks in the region, renewed tensions are threatening to undermine fragile regional stability. Moreover, the EU’s unfinished business in the Balkans opens the door to various political, economic and security alternatives. This is precisely why the main message of this study is that the current autopilot mode of enlargement cannot continue.