The Integration of the Western Balkans Into the EU Is Also Blocked Because of the War in Ukraine

The Czech Presidency is struggling to decide how to proceed

27 May 2022

Barbora Chrzová and Petr Čermák

In the last almost ten years, none of the Western Balkan states has achieved significant rapprochement with the EU, the whole process is mutually blocked. On the Western Balkan side, the reluctance to implement key reforms and to settle their internal and mutual disputes — on the EU side, the inability to find consensus among the Member States on the speed and manner of further enlargement.

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine reminded Europe of the importance of its common project and Ukraine’s application for EU membership revived discussions on further enlargement of the Union. The agenda, which in recent years has been promoted mainly by a narrow circle of experts on the Western Balkans and the Eastern Partnership countries, and which has been stalled despite various political declarations, has thus gained importance.

However, whether interest in the region will translate into a real shift in the Western Balkan or Ukrainian enlargement agenda remains a question. What is at stake and how does it relate to the upcoming Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union?

Stalled Western Balkan Accession 

The question of how to grasp this issue poses a current challenge for the current French and upcoming Czech presidencies of the Council of the EU. France has made European integration of the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia — Croatia and Slovenia are already a member of the EU) one of its priorities, as has Slovenia, which handed over the presidency.

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