Next July Croatia will become the 28th EU member, but as Europe struggles to deal with the euro crisis, has any further enlargement into the Western Balkans frozen to a halt? Although the temptation for the EU is to adopt a ‘wait and see’ strategy, the stability of the status quo may prove deceptive.
There is a silent pact between the enlargement-fatigued and crisis-hit EU member states and rent-seeking Balkan elites who do not mind slowing the pace of reform, with a ‘fire-brigade’ approach to periodic crises and outbursts of violence in Kosovo and elsewhere.
But in a new ECFR paper, “The periphery of the periphery: the Western Balkans and the euro crisis”, Dimitar Bechev warns that a failure to deliver transformation in the region would hurt EU credibility in other regions, like the Middle East and former Soviet Union. He argues that:
“In good times the EU exported prosperity to the Balkans; now in a time of crisis it is exporting instability. The EU needs to restore a sense of momentum towards enlargement and put pressure on under-performing governments. If not ambitious powers like Russia, Turkey and China will fill the gaps.”
- Dimitar Bechev, Head of ECFR Sofia office and Senior Policy Fellow.
Download the new ECFR policy brief here: "The periphery of the periphery: The Western Balkans and the euro crisis"
This paper, like all ECFR publications, represents the views of its author, not the collective position of ECFR or its Council Members.
The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) is the first pan-European think-tank. Launched in October 2007, its objective is to conduct research and promote informed debate across Europe on the development of coherent and effective European values based foreign policy. ECFR is independent and funded from a variety of sources. For more details go to http://ecfr.eu/content/entry/support
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