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.
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