Europeanization Travels to the Western Balkans: Enlargement Strategy, Domestic Obstacles and Diverging Reforms.
In Elbasani, A. (Ed.) European Integration and Transformation in the Western Balkans: Europeanization or Business as Usual? (Abingdon: Routledge), 3-22.
33 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2015
Date Written: March 1, 2013
During the 1990s, the Western Balkans have dominated academic attention as a region of violent conflicts and delayed transitions when compared to the smooth and peaceful transformations elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). However, the region’s reputation as Europe’s ‘trouble-making periphery’ promised to change at the turn of the 2000s, when the European Union (EU) expanded its concept of enlargement to include all Balkan countries left out of the previous wave of enlargement. The EU’s ‘unequivocal support for the European perspective of the Western Balkans’ (European Council 2003), coupled with a regiontailored enlargement policy – the Stabilization and Association Process (SAP) – were widely promoted as the anchor of future reforms. By that time, EU enlargement was held as a success story that contributed to creating peace and stability, inspiring reforms, and consolidating common principles of liberty, democracy as well as market economies, in the previous candidate countries in the East. The EU policy shift towards the region, on the one hand, and increasing domestic demand for integration, on the other, have generated high expectations that enlargement strategy will work to discipline democratic institution-building and foster post-communist reforms in the same way that it did in the previous candidates in CEE.
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