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The Western Balkans: deadlock in the EU enlargement process. OSW Commentary No. 43, 2010-11-24

Szpala, Marta (2010) The Western Balkans: deadlock in the EU enlargement process. OSW Commentary No. 43, 2010-11-24. [Policy Paper]

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    On 9 November the European Commission presented the annual reports assessing the progress of the Balkans states in their preparations for EU membership, the enlargement strategy up to autumn 2011, and the assessment of the EU membership applications submitted by Albania and Macedonia. All these documents show that the reform process in the Balkan states has slowed down in comparison to previous years. The main reason for this slowdown is the negative consequences of the global economic crisis for these countries. Nonetheless, the transformation process is continuing, despite these difficulties. Another increasingly serious challenge for integrating the Balkan states is the EU's growing reluctance to enlarge any further. Among other measures, the EU states have blocked the formal acknowledgement of the integration progress (objections have been raised to the submission of membership applications by Albania, Serbia and Montenegro, and to granting Albania candidate status), which has significantly prolonged the accession process. In fact, this illustrates the lack of political will to accept new members. The European Commission is aware that the integration process may be blocked, and so in the coming year it is planning to focus on fostering the idea of enlargement among the EU member states. It will also focus on persuading the Balkan states to move on with reforms, especially those designed to strengthen state institutions (administration, the judiciary), even if their progress will not be formally considered during the integration process. The Commission assumes that by the end of next year, the reforms implemented by the Balkan states will be comprehensive enough to persuade the EU states to step up the integration process in subsequent years. However, if the EU member states' standpoint on the enlargement process does not change, the Commission's efforts will not bring about the expected results. Considering that their prospects for EU membership are receding, the Balkan states may not have sufficient motivation to go on with long-term reform efforts. As a result, the transformation process may become impeded, and in the longer perspective, the situation in the entire region may be destabilised.

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    Item Type: Policy Paper
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > External relations > EU-South-Eastern Europe (Balkans)
    Countries > Macedonia
    Countries > Albania
    EU policies and themes > External relations > enlargement (see Treaty reform)
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW) > OSW Commentary
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2014 14:56
    Number of Pages: 7
    Last Modified: 11 Dec 2014 14:56

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