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The EU and the Western Balkans: So Near and Yet So Far

Why the Region Needs Fast-Track Socio-Economic Convergence with the EU

SWP Comment 2017/C 53, 19.12.2017, 4 Pages Research Areas

The European Commission will unveil its new EU Enlargement Strategy on February 6th, 2018. Since relations with Turkey have deteriorated markedly, only the Western Balkan states remain candidates for EU membership. The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, has stated the European Commission’s intention to ensure that the Western Balkan countries are on an “irreversible” track to membership in the Union before the end of its mandate in 2019. Unless the new Enlargement Strategy offers a realistic plan to tackle the lack of economic growth and social progress in the region, it will be another futile institutional exercise because democracy, the rule of law and other basic distinctions of “Europeanness” cannot make lasting inroads into the enduring poverty in the Western Balkans.

The Institute of European Studies in Belgrade has published a translation of this comment in Serbocroat.