Over the past decade, the European Union (EU) has gone through a multiple set of crises, including the global financial crisis, the Eurozone crisis, the refugee crisis, and Brexit. These have been accompanied by geopolitical instability on Europe’s southern periphery and the failure of the EU’s Ostpolitik following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. On top of this, the EU is facing a major crisis of democracy in some of its member states. Preoccupied with dealing with its internal problems, the EU has in the meantime kept its enlargement policy to the Western Balkans (WB) on an auto-pilot mode, 1 or in the worst case it has misused it - for example when closing the WB refugee corridor – in order to preserve internal stability. As a result, 18 years after the launch of the Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) with the EU, WB countries (apart from Croatia, which managed to join in 2013) are still far away from EU accession. At the same time, WB democracies have been backsliding for nearly a decade, while some countries are still or again governed by semi-authoritarian leaders who have adopted democratic rhetoric, but continue to use undemocratic methods to preserve their power.
Policy Paper: Western Balkans and the EU Fresh Wind in the Sails of Enlargement
1 October, 2017