The Western Balkans on their way to the EU – status quo regardless of refugee

Michal Vít 
Research Fellow

  • This text analyses the contemporary political and societal context of the Western Balkan region (WB) from the perspective of EU enlargement. It strives to present evidence of a correlation between the slowly declining interest in this region from the EU’s perspective, with a corresponding discrepancy between declared integration commitments and their actual execution. The migrant crisis adds further complications and is at the heart of these deteriorating developments. The EU’s enlargement policy towards the WB has weakened its transformational power towards new possible EU member states in the past decade. Looking at the enlargement policy in the context of migrant crisis from a broader perspective, it has failed to manifest unity and solidarity when managing fundamental problems such as migrant flows. The underestimated importance of the EU-WB relations in the larger scale of EU policies will also be discussed.

One way to summarize the current situation would be to say that the WB countries’ admission to the EU has to be addressed only in such a way that the topic of the EU integration remains open by maintaining ongoing negotiations.

In this context, it is only stating the obvious to say that the EU is steadily losing its potential to play a significant political and transformational role in the region, and to effectively influence the behaviour of those WB countries looking to join the EU.

It is possible that in hindsight, maybe ten years from now, the migrant crisis will be seen as a wasted opportunity for the region of the WB, both from the perspective of the EU and of Central Europe.

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