The EU’s re-engagement with the Western Balkans: A new chapter long overdue

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Series Details No 2019/01
Publication Date 10/01/2019
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Key points for policymakers 2018 was dominated by deep divisions among the EU member states despite the great expectations set by the European Commission’s February 2018 strategy paper. A major effort will now be required to restore credibility to the EU’s enlargement agenda and ensure a genuine re-engagement with the Western Balkans. It will be up to the new Commission to regain a leadership role and give the integration of the region into the EU the priority it deserves. Policy recommendations The European Commission should ensure that all the recommendations contained in its February 2018 strategy paper be followed up. To that end, it should incorporate the proposed concrete actions into the next enlargement communication strategy and country reports so as to make the reports more operational. The European Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS), together with the EU member states, should adopt a more pro-active diplomatic effort in resolving bilateral disputes in the Western Balkan region. The European Commission should maintain the regular timing of early April for adopting its annual communication on enlargement and country reports, to allow sufficient time for follow up at the European Council in June.

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