Recent progress in the case of the six Western Balkan countries accession to the European Union seems to be a case of one step forward and two steps back – or to use a soccer metaphor, the goal posts are always moving. The lack of concrete progress and clear recognition of progress made is beginning to have an effect not only on political elites, but also on the public. With other global players on Europe’s doorstep looking to make their own gains in the region, the EU needs a convincing path for the WB6 to enter the Union. The way forward does not need to be radical: with a few tweaks and some creative thinking, existing mechanisms could still work. But this has to be done in the context of treating the countries as future members of the EU. This means more often including them in the processes that the EU uses to appraise current Member States, as well as fi nding ways to make the flow of funding reflect this idea that all six are future Member States. Revisiting the idea of “linearization” of funds to the WB6 would be an excellent place to start, as well as devising a clear tailor-made accession partnership roadmap for each of the Western Balkans countries.
Policy Brief: Bouncing back: Completing the EU unification process
1 June, 2021