This week’s European Council will make crucial decisions concerning EU enlargement. The application of war-torn Ukraine – together with those of Moldova and Georgia – has been in the spotlight, shadowing the Western Balkan countries’ aspirations and raising their legitimate concerns about their long-promised European perspective.
The accession process of the six Western Balkan countries has been stalled for a while, particularly with Albania and North Macedonia waiting to start negotiations, and Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo waiting to be given the official candidate status. While it is time for the European Union to provide a positive and robust sign of its intention to advance the enlargement process, the Western Balkans must continue on their reform path.
This dossier provides a glance at the current state of reform in the region in some crucial areas, namely the economy and rule of law. It also looks at the impact of the war in Ukraine on the international stance of a region that has been itself ravaged by fratricidal war and still carries deep scars. Overall, a situation that urgently calls for inclusion rather than exclusion from the EU.