Main topic




The fact that the European Union’s (EU) enlargement policy is in crisis is nothing new. For years now, it has been suffering from the ‘business as usual’ approach and disguising the enlargement fatigue and EU member states’ disagreement over widening and deepening the integration. In this article we applied Frank Schimmelfennig and Ulrich Sedelmeier’s external incentives model to the Europeaniyation of Western Balkans, which confirms that the decline of credibility is the most important factor in the decline of the Europeanization effects of the actual EU’s enlargement policy. By setting 2025 as the indicative accession year for frontrunners, the 2018 Enlargement Strategy gave rise to some hope for candidate countries. Just year and a half later, however, the October 2019 meeting of the European Council and the French veto over opening negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia revealed a less optimistic scenario of changing the enlargement methodology. The goal of this article is to critically explore the revised enlargement methodology presented by the European Commission. The main thesis of the article is that it is not the methodology that is at the heart of the failure of the transformative effect of the enlargement process, but in fact it is the lack of EU’s strategic political approach to its enlargement. In recent years, the enlargement policy gradually became more detailed and better organised, providing the EU with a variety of veto points: the negotiating chapters that cover the area of judiciary/fundamental rights and justice/freedom/security are opened at the beginning of the negotiations and remain open until their very end; specific opening, interim, and closing benchmarks are introduced for each chapter, and so on. Moreover, in the negotiating frameworks with Montenegro and Serbia, the EU introduced the “balance clause” through which it can discontinue negotiations on other chapters if progress in the area of judiciary and fundamental rights, justice, freedom and security starts to lag behind. In addition, as clearly stated in the EU’s negotiating frameworks, accession negotiations are not an irreversible process. Therefore, it seems that the revised 2020 methodology has other goals. While a much-needed high-level political engagement through regular EU-Western Balkans summits and intensified ministerial contacts could provide the process with added value, it seems that proposed clusters are paving the way for future permanent differentiated membership forms.

keywords :


    • Вукасовић, Дејана М., „Национално VS. наднационално у политици наоружања ЕУ“, Политичка ревија, бр. 03/2019, год. (XXX) XIX. vol. 61, 85-112.
    • Ковачевић, Маја, “Европска унија између политике проширења и тенденција продубљивања европске интеграције”, у: Слободан Самарџић (уредник) Србија у процесу придруживања Европској унији, Службени гласник, 2009, 15-43.
    • Ковачевић, Маја, “Криза у Европској унији и политика проширења”, у: Слободан Самарџић, Ивана Радић Милосављевић (Ур.), Европска унија: нове и старе димензије кризе, Универзитет у Београду – Факултет политичких наука, 2016, 83-91.
    • Ковачевић, Маја, „Европска унија и Западни Балкан: како раскинути “прећутни пакт стабилократије”?“, у: Зборник радова са међународне научне конференције Сукоби. Стабилност. Демократија?, Факултет политичких наука, Београд, 2019, 9-23.
    • Anastasakis, Othon, “The EUʼs political conditionality in the Western Balkans: Towards a more pragmatic approach”, Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, Vol. 8, No. 4, 2008, 365-377.
    • Bechev, Dimitar, “The Periphery of the Periphery: The Western Balkans and the Euro crisis”, European Council of Foreign Relations Policy Brief, August 2012.
    • Bieber, Florian, “Building Impossible States? State-Building Strategies and EU Membership in the Western Balkans”, Europe-Asia Studies, 63, No. 10, December 2011, 1783–1802.
    • Bieber, Florian, The Rise of Authoritarianism in the Western Balkans, Palgrave Macmilan, 2020.

    ·         Blagovcanin, Srdjan, The EU as state builder in the process of European integration – the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Sarajevo, 2016.

    • Brandi, Clara, Wohlgemuth, Michael, “Strategies of Flexible Integration and Enlargement of the European Union: a Club-theoretical and Constitutional Economics Perspective”, Freiburg discussion papers on constitutional economics, No. 06/7, 2006.
    • Brunet, Luc-André (Ed), The Crisis of EU Enlargement, LSE Ideas Special Report, November 2013.
    • Conference on accession to the European Union – Serbia, Accession document: General EU Position, Ministerial meeting opening the Intergovernmental Conference on the Accession of Serbia to the European Union, AD 1/14 LIMITE CONF-RS 1, Brussels, 21 January 2014.
    • Commission of the European Communities, Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2006 – 2007, Brussels, 8.11.2006, COM(2006) 649.
    • Commission of the European Communities, Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2012-2013, Brussels, 10.10.2012, COM(2012) 600 final.
    • Council of the European Union, Enlargement – Accession Negotiations with Montenegro, Brussels, 29 March 2012, 8339/12.
    • Dennison, Susi, „Give the people what they want: Popular demand for a strong European foreign policy“, European Council for Foreign Relations Policy Brief, September 2019.
    • Emmott, Robin, Guarascio, Francesco, Pennetier, Marine, “France under fire for ‘historic error’ of blocking Balkan EU hopefuls”, REUTERS, October 18, 2019.
    • European Commission – Press release, „Commission welcomes the green light to opening of accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia“, Brussels, 25 March 2020.
    • European Commission, European Neighbourhood Policy And Enlargement Negotiations, Steps towards joining, (20.03.2020.)
    • European Council in Copenhagen, Conclusions of the Presidency, 21-22 June 1993, SN 180/1/93 REV 1
    • Freedom House, Nations in Transit 2016: Europe and Eurasia Brace for Impact, 2016.
    • Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2019: Democracy in Retreat, 2019.
    • Grabbe, Heather, The EU’s Transformative power: Europeanization through Conditionality in Central and Eastern Europe, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2006.

    ·         Keil, Soeren, Arkan, Zeynep, The EU and Member State Building: European Foreign Policy in the Western Balkans, Routledge, 2015.

    • Kovačević, Maja, „In the Bermuda Triangle? The European Union’s Enlargement policy, Common Foreign and Security Policy and unfinished states in the Western Balkans“, Serbian Political Thought, No 1 2011, vol. 3, 21-38.
    • Kovačević, Maja, “The EU’s Stability-Democratisation Dilemma in Western Balkans: the case of Serbia”, The Australian and New Zealand Journal of European Studies (ANZJES), Vol 10 (3) 2018, 9-23.
    • Macron, Emmanuel, «Pour une Renaissance européenne»: la lettre d’Emmanuel Macron aux Européens, Le Parisien, 4 mars 2019.
    • Marković, Ksenija, Jovanović, Marko, Matijević, Branka, „Kosovo and Metohija or the European Union ‒ a rhetorical dilemma in the Serbian political discourse“, Serbian Political Thought 4/2019, Year XXVI, Vol. 66, 173-192.
    • O’Brennan, John, “On the Slow Train to Nowhere? The European Union, ʻEnlargement Fatigueʼ and the Western Balkans”, European Foreign Affairs Review, Vol. 19, No. 2, 2014, 221–242.
    • Rettman, Andrew, “What does Macron really want on Western Balkans?”, EUObserver, 12.11.2019.
    • Schimmelfennig, Frank, Sedelmeier, Ulrich, “Governance by Conditionality: EU Rule Transfer to the Candidate Countries of Central and Eastern Europe”, Journal of European Public Policy, Vol. 11, No. 4, 2004, 661–679.
    • Schimmelfennig, Frank, Sedelmeier, Ulrich, „The Europeanization of Eastern Europe: the external incentives model revisited“,Journal of European Public Policy, 2019, DOI: 1080/13501763.2019.1617333
    • Schmidt, Vivien A., “Democracy and Legitimacy in the European Union Revisited: Output, Input and Throughput”, KFG Working Paper Series, No. 21, November 2010.
    • Zhelyazkova, Asya, Damjanovski, Ivan, Nechev, Zoran, Schimmelfennig, Frank, “European Union Conditionality in the Western Balkans: External Incentives and Europeanisation”, in: J. Džankić et al. (eds.), The Europeanisation of the Western Balkans, New Perspectives on South-East Europe, 2019, 15-37.
PERIODICS Political Review 2/2020 2/2020 УДК 341.217.04(4-672EU:497) 133-150