European Council on Foreign Relations
podcast banner

ECFR podcasts - experts and big names talking about Europe's place in the world - in English, Spanish, French, German and Italian.

Go to the podcasts page

Scorecard The Europe Question

Beyond wait-and-see: the way forward for EU Balkan policy

Pre-occupied with its financial troubles, the EU is no longer paying attention to the Western Balkans. As a result it is losing credibility and influence in a region that may slide back towards instability. The EU's foreign ministers urgently need to rethink their policies towards the Balkans.

This is the main conclusion of Beyond wait-and-see: the way forward for EU Balkan policy, a policy brief by Balkan experts Heather Grabbe, Gerald Knaus and Daniel Korski, published by the European Council on Foreign Relations.

The EU's 'wait-and-see' approach to the Western Balkans needs to be rethought to sustain the progress of the last couple of years, and avert the threat of future instability. Grabbe, Knaus and Korski argue that the EU needs to use the EU-Balkan summit in Sarajevo on 2 June to announce an intention to boost the EU's engagement in the Western Balkans. This will keep them on the path to stability, prosperity and eventual EU membership.

The authors say:

Like the original EU members half a century ago, it is a shared vision of the future that the newly independent, fragile and still mutually suspicious countries of the Western Balkans have in common. The EU must now decide whether to start delivering on the promises it made.

Using the tools it already has, the EU can support reform in the region through healthy competition, at no extra cost. The recent visa liberalisation in the Western Balkans demonstrates how the EU can effectively use its soft power and tangible incentives to gain leverage and progress in the region.

In particular, Grabbe, Knaus and Korski recommend the EU streamline the accession process in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

Listen to an audio podcast with Heather Grabbe on this paper here.

Click here for our press release.

Read a commentary piece by Daniel Korski on the how the Western Balkans can get out of the EU's waiting room.

Events

European Spring: How to put our economies and politics right? - 15 Jul 14

With European economies failing to deliver higher standards of living, and growing public disillusionment with apparently self-serving politicians, Philippe Legrain discusses where

Read more…

In the Press

La Croix
30 Jul 14

Myriam Benraad is interviewed about the situation in Libya.

MSNBC
29 Jul 14

Daniel Levy on Israeli/US relations.

Washington Post
29 Jul 14

Sophia Pugsley on the expanded sanctions on Russia.

Read more press >

Two-State Stress Test