EU member states and enlargement towards the Balkans

22 July 2015
Cornelius Adebahr (Political analyst and entrepreneur working on European foreign policy; Associate in the Europe Programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Associate Fellow of the Research Institute of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)), Franco Algieri (Associate Professor and Head of the International Relations Department at Webster University Vienna), Ioannis Armakolas (Assistant Professor, Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia, and Head of the South-East Europe Programme of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP)), Graham Avery (Senior Adviser to EPC on EU enlargement policy), Rosa Balfour (Senior Adviser to EPC on Europe in the World), Steven Blockmans (Head of EU Foreign Policy at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), in Brussels, and Professor of EU External Relations, Law and Governance at the University of Amsterdam), Karlis Bukovskis (Deputy Director and Researcher, Latvian Institute of International Affairs (LIIA)), Ruth Ferrero-Turrion (Associate Professor, European Studies at Universidad Complutense and Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, and Senior Research Associate at Complutense Institute of International Studies (ICEI)), Andrea Frontini (Policy Analyst), Gunilla Herolf (Researcher at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI) and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)), Christophe Hillion (Professor of European Law, University of Leiden), Beata Huszka (Assistant Professor, Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Faculty of Social Studies), Isabelle Ioannides (Senior Associate Researcher in the European Foreign and Security Policy cluster of the Institute for European Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel), Paul Ivan (Senior Policy Analyst), James Ker-Lindsay (Eurobank Senior Research Fellow in the Politics of South East Europe at the European Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)), Andrew Konitzer (Associate Director, Center for Russian and East European Studies), Marin Lessenski (Programme Director of the European Policies Programme of the Open Society Institute, Sofia), Hans Martens (Senior Adviser to EPC on energy, public service reform and CHES), Diana Potjomkina (Research Fellow at the Latvian Institute of International Affairs (LIIA)), Corina Stratulat (Senior Policy Analyst), Theresia Töglhofer (Senior Policy Analyst), Giorgos Triantafyllou (Research Fellow at the South-East Europe Programme of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP)), Natasha Wunsch (Research Fellow at the South-East Europe Programme of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP)) and Tomasz Zornaczuk (Research Fellow at the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM))

The European Union’s enlargement to the Balkans seems to be running on autopilot since Croatia’s accession in 2013 and amidst the on-going crisis. While the region still has a clear European perspective, progress on the dossier has been marred not just by outstanding challenges in individual Balkan countries but often also by hurdles which develop within the Union – more specifically in the member states. While the EU’s internal procedures for handling enlargement have always been intergovernmental in nature, the frequency of incursions and opportunities for the member states to interfere and derail the process has increased over the past years, suggesting a so-called ‘nationalisation’ of enlargement. The present dynamics between the EU and the Balkans serve as a prime example of politics getting in the way of progress: on both sides, those in power and responsible for delivering success still need to show real engagement with the process. In 17 case studies and two theoretical chapters, this Issue Paper investigates whether the dossier has shifted more under the control of the member states, and looks at the kind of considerations and potential ‘roadblocks’ that influence the positions of key national actors on enlargement.

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