Dealing with EU accession in times of uncertainties: From halfway commitments to overlapping agendas

Policy Study

21/04/2021

“The process of EU enlargement in the Western Balkans is today marred by ambiguities” writes Matteo Bonomi, Research Fellow at the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), at the beginning of this Policy Brief.

The publication aims at investigating the current developments of the EU enlargement agenda in the Western Balkans and the main obstacles it is facing. It highlights the existence of resistances towards this policy and claims that the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already complex situation.

According to Matteo Bonomi, the EU-Western Balkan relations should move from halfway commitments toward a common agenda and need to tackle the root causes of the current situation. Among the main problems of the region, the author highlights the “enduring socio-economic regression, unresolved constitutional disputes and backsliding in democratic standards”.

This Policy Brief is produced in the framework of the project “What is Progressive? The EU and the challenge of enlargement to the Western Balkans” by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and the Fondation Jean Jaurès (FJJ).

Read the Policy Brief 

Abstract: The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has put to test EU’s cohesion and effectiveness not only with regards to its internal governance, but also in relation to its strategic partnerships with neighbouring countries, starting from the enlargement countries in the Western Balkans. While a series of multiple crises in the EU were already contributing to cement resistance towards the enlargement agenda, the pandemic seems to have exacerbated pre-existing problems related to this policy, which is today crumbling under the pressure of current emergencies. Indeed, the process of EU enlargement in the Western Balkans is today marred by ambiguities, not providing a clear path towards EU membership. To navigate through these doomy and gloomy days, EU-Western Balkan relations should move from halfway commitments toward a common agenda of tackling the root causes of the current situation, namely the enduring socio-economic entropy and political backsliding in the Western Balkans.

ℹ️ Dealing with EU accession in times of uncertainties: From halfway commitments to overlapping agendas is part of the FEPS EU enlargement publication series

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