This page was archived on October 2020.


Western Balkans

31 - Overall progress of enlargement in the Western Balkans

Grade: B-
Unity 2/5
Resources 4/5
Strategy 3/5
Impact 2/5
Total 11/20
Scorecard 2015: B- (11/20)
Scorecard 2014: A- (16/20)
Scorecard 2013: B+ (14/20)
Scorecard 2012: B (13/20)

Western Balkan countries took important steps towards EU membership, but reform was often hampered by domestic political gridlock

While important enlargement milestones were achieved during 2015, the countries of the Western Balkans made limited progress in their efforts to reform and move closer to the EU. Political gridlock between government and opposition in several countries held back reform. For most of 2015, the EU was largely focused on dealing with crises elsewhere. The refugee crisis, however, served as a sharp reminder of the interplay between stability in these neighbouring countries and the EU.

Kosovo signed the SAA with the EU in October, meaning that all countries of the Western Balkans are now covered by an SAA. However, it suffered from political unrest, with the opposition protesting against agreements signed with Serbia.In Macedonia, a political dispute turned into a full-blown crisis after the opposition claimed the government had wiretapped 20,000 citizens, prompting the EU to step in to broker a deal. Macedonia saw deadly clashes between police and a Kosovo Albanian group. The SAA for Bosnia and Herzegovina entered into force in June, and the country’s leadership committed to the reform agenda, though the constitutional structure and a lack of political will continued to hamper progress.

Montenegro opened six new negotiating chapters in the accession process and was invited to become a NATO member in December. Russia termed this development an “openly confrontational step”. Serbia made some progress on its track towards EU membership, opening Chapters 34 and 35 (on relations with Kosovo). However, Belgrade avoided criticising or imposing sanctions on Russia, which could raise questions about whether Belgrade will be a disruptive force within the EU. Albania continued to implement the SAA one year after becoming an EU candidate country, but suffered from particular shortcomings on certain reform areas, such as public administration and judiciary, fighting corruption, and modernising the economy.