Comment 22 Jan 18

Europe’s New Balkan Strategy Gets Dynamics All Wrong

The Commission’s new enlargement strategy for the Balkans is ambitious - but fundamentally misreads the serious nature of the challenges to democracy in the region.

Toby Vogel

European Union Flags. Photo: Flickr/Thijs ter Haar

Next month, the European Commission is set to adopt a new strategy paper on the European Union’s enlargement into the Western Balkans.

The paper, drafted by the Commission’s directorate for enlargement, under Johannes Hahn, is being reviewed by other departments and is likely to undergo minor revisions in response to their comments. It is scheduled for adoption by the full Commission on February 6.

The strategy’s headline issue is a best-case timeline under which Montenegro and Serbia would join the European Union at the end of 2025.

But for this to happen, Serbia would have to achieve “comprehensive normalisation of relations” with the former province of Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008, by the end of 2019.

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