The Western Balkans in
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The Western Balkans in "Post-Referendum" Europe
The Western Balkans in "Post-Referendum" Europe

Author(s): Christophe Solioz
Subject(s): Politics / Political Sciences
Published by: Südosteuropa Gesellschaft e.V.
Keywords: EU’s long-term strategy towards the Western Balkans; European Neighbourhood Policy; European Constitution; EU enlargement

Summary/Abstract: The Stabilisation and Association process (SAp) has since 1999 been the centrepiece of the EU’s long-term strategy towards the Western Balkans. The SAp is a tailor-made, country-by-country, progressive approach for Western Balkan countries considered as potential members of the EU. In contrast to the EU’s European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the SAp provides for the Western Balkans a far more focused strategy with effective incentives and a clear and quite demanding agenda. The EU integration perspective, and thus the effective prospect of membership, provides a coherent framework and strategy to the complex and difficult reform effort in the region. The French and Dutch “Nos” – on 29 May and 1 June 2005, respectively – to the European Constitution have sent shock waves through the Balkans, since they put also in question all countries’ hope of membership. Thus, we may ask if the Western Balkans are not lost somewhere between the perspective of an upgraded neighbourhood policy and the promise of enlargement. While it is too early to evaluate the “collateral damage” of the results of the referenda in the region, certainly, the criteria for candidacy and membership will be tightened. After all, the EU must stick to its word and not withdraw from the continued need for a coherent strategy for all Balkan countries. If the EU were to pull away from its commitment made at Thessaloniki in June 2003, the risk would be high that each country involved would backtrack on its commitment to reform and constitutional changes as well.

  • Issue Year: 2005
  • Issue No: 04-05
  • Page Range: 6-15
  • Page Count: 10
  • Language: English