An agency of the EU

Overview

The countries of the Western Balkans are geographically surrounded by EU member states, and the EU’s general approach towards the region is characterised by stabilisation through integration.

The conflicts which blighted the region in the 1990s posed an existential challenge to the Common Security and Foreign Policy (CFSP) and in 2003, the EU went beyond its declaratory statements and launched the first ever Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) mission, EUPM, in Bosnia and Herzegovina and subsequently, the first military operation, Concordia, in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Currently, the military operation EUFOR Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Union’s largest mission to date, EULEX, in Kosovo, provide tangible illustrations of the EU’s continued commitment to ensuring peace and stability in the region. Furthermore, the objectives of the Union and the work of the High Representative are also supported by the European Union Special Representatives (EUSRs) in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

In 2000, the Feira European Council acknowledged that the Western Balkan countries were ‘potential candidates’ for EU membership. In June 2003, the EU-Western Balkans summit resulted in the Thessaloniki Declaration, in which the EU declared unequivocally that the ‘future of the Balkans is within the European Union’. On 1 July 2013, Croatia became the 28th member state of the European Union, and the prospect of EU membership remains open to the official candidate countries (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) as well as to the potential candidates: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo.

Publications

  • Kosovo’s local elections and the way ahead

    This alert examines the milestone elections that took place in northern Kosovo earlier this month. With Kosovo’s Serbs now politically engaged, what are the next steps in order to keep both the country – and the region – on the path to EU integration?

  • The European future of the Western Balkans - Thessaloniki@10

    In June 2003 the EU-Western Balkans summit resulted in the Thessaloniki Declaration, affirming unequivocally that ‘the future of the Balkans is within the European Union’. On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the declaration, and on the eve of Croatia’s accession to the EU, this publication assesses the progress that the countries of the Western Balkans have made on the path to European integration in the past decade.

  • Belgrade-Pristina: un accord historique en perspective

    Quatorze ans après la fin de la guerre, le récent accord du 19 avril normalise pour la première fois les relations entre la Serbie et le Kosovo. Il représente une étape décisive pour les deux parties vers l’intégration européenne et confirme également l’importance de l’action de l’UE dans la région des Balkans occidentaux.

  • Cover: report 14 depicting two EUPM policemen guarding a bridge.

    Ten years after: lessons from the EUPM in Bosnia and Herzegovina 2002-2012

    The launch of the EU Police Mission (EUPM) was for many the first tangible outcome from the EU CFSP. This joint report contributes, through the identification of key lessons and recommendations, to collaborative lessons learning for police reform in BiH, CSDP and the EU’s external action in general.