Written by EU Integration

The Western Balkans after EU Rejections

–The EU Council did not announce a date for the beginning of accesson negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia.
–France’s new strategy for the Western Balkans could delay or prevent EU enlargement in the region.
–Western Balkans countries could look for hope outside of the EU.

BLERIM REKA On October 18, the EU Council postponed the beginning of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia for the third time. Formally, three member states, France, Denmark and the Netherlands were against the talks. However the decision ultimately belonged to French President Emmanuel Macron, who requested a “new methodology” of enlargement-in which full EU accession of Western Balkan countries could be substituted with other arrangements. A new enlargement round after a 15-year pause appears increasingly unlikely Probably, accession will be replaced with “special partnerships” or perhaps- although this is less likely- with the European Neighborhood Policy. The EU’s restrictive approach toward enlargement will cause unpredictable geopolitical and domestic developments in the Western Balkans. Putting accession on hold means a strategic vacuum could arise in the region, allowing non-Euro-Atlantic players to step in. Without hope of becoming part of a united Europe, Balkan countries could turn to old dreams of unification within national borders. If the pan-European project fails, then Kosovo could seek to unite with Albania, or Serbia could attempt to integrate the Bosnian entity of Republika Srpska, potentially leading to more borders rather than fewer. In October, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and President of Republika Srpska Milorad…

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