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Western Balkans

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.

On 1 July 2013, Croatia became the 28th member state of the European Union. In 2012, Montenegro opened the accession negotiations, followed by Serbia in 2013. The prospect of EU membership remains open to the official candidate countries (Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), as well as to the potential candidates: Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

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    20 September 2017

    Prepared by the EUISS with the support and cooperation of the European Fund for the Balkans (EFB) – examines how the Western Balkans has emerged once again as a potentially volatile geopolitical arena, and analyses the drivers underpinning both fragility and resilience in the countries of the region from a variety of perspectives.

  • Download document
    19 June 2017

    This Report presents a number of grey swan scenarios which are designed to help decision-makers think about possible responses to crises and how they can be prevented. They cover a wide variety of geographical and operational situations while never explicitly calling into question specific EU actions or policies – only general EU principles and interests.

  • Download file
    16 June 2017

    This Brief focuses on the phenomenon of foreign fighters originating from the Western Balkans, and how countries in the region apply double standards in this regard, categorising Islamist foreign fighters as terrorists, whereas right-wing nationalist combatants who have fought in Ukraine are regarded as a secondary concern.

  • 14 June 2017

    This Alert examines recent negative political developments in the Western Balkans, against the backdrop of a worrying drift towards illiberal authoritarianism in countries of the region. It argues that if local political actors do not take tangible steps towards reform to address the ongoing illiberal trends, political instability could re-emerge once again in the region.

  • Download document
    14 June 2017

    This Brief shows that, in the case of the Western Balkans, improving resilience requires a careful analysis of how the enlargement process can be adapted and improved in order to maintain its transformative power, as well as ensure that reforms are both sustainable and irreversible.

  • Download document
    14 June 2017

    This Brief focuses on enhancing state resilience in the energy sector across the Western Balkans and shows how a transition to fully transparent and open energy markets is only possible through regulatory and legislative reform and the establishment of a financially attractive environment for investors.

  • 16 February 2017

    This expert workshop sought to identify and analyse the various drivers of fragility in and for the Western Balkans and the kind of responses that may be needed from the EU and/or local actors.

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    15 February 2017

    Four years after Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the ‘New Silk Road’ initiative in 2013, the main thrust of the infrastructure projects has been in Asia. However, the Western Balkans is also becoming increasingly involved in related discussions and projects on its western end.

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    10 June 2016

    This Alert seeks to draw attention to the often overlooked problem of Islamic extremist movements in the Balkans. Given the region’s moderate traditions, why are radical Islamist groups now proving so popular?

  • 30 May 2016

    On the 30-31 of May 2016, more than 80 researchers and policy analysts from think tanks and academia met in Paris at the Austrian Embassy and the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI).

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Pages

  • 16 February 2017

    This expert workshop sought to identify and analyse the various drivers of fragility in and for the Western Balkans and the kind of responses that may be needed from the EU and/or local actors.

  • 30 May 2016

    On the 30-31 of May 2016, more than 80 researchers and policy analysts from think tanks and academia met in Paris at the Austrian Embassy and the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI).

  • 04 December 2015

    In cooperation with the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Austria and the European Stability Initiative, and with the support of the European Fund for the Balkans, the EU Institute for Security Studies organised an event at the Austrian Foreign Ministry in Vienna on 4th December 2015.

  • 12 December 2014

    On 12 December 2014, the EUISS hosted a screening of the fly-on-the-wall documentary film The Agreement.

  • 09 July 2013

    On Tuesday, 9 July 2013 in Brussels, the EUISS organised, in close cooperation with the European Policy Centre (EPC), a conference to discuss how far the Western Balkans have come in their European ambitions since the Thessaloniki Declaration of 2003. The debate was animated by many high-ranking experts from the EU and the region and the conclusions were made by the first Permanent Representative of Croatia to the EU.

  • 08 June 2012

    This seminar, jointly organised by the EU Police Mission (EUPM) and the EUISS and held in Sarajevo on the 7-8 June, marked 10 years of EU civilian crisis management in the Western Balkans and examined the impact of the EUPM in Bosnia and Herzegovina and lessons learned for the future of CFSP/CSDP.

  • 06 June 2011

    Each of the countries in the Balkans is on a different course to eventual accession to the European Union. But where will they be in 20 years' time? This seminar, co-organised with the Foreign Policy Initative BH, set out to explore this very question.

  • 10 November 2010

    The third annual EU-Washington Forum, held on 8-9 November 2010 in Washington DC, addressed the challenge of strengthening the EU-US relationship post Lisbon and explored options for reinvigorating the common agenda.

  • 13 July 2010

    This first seminar in the 'Unfinished business in Europe' series focused on the Western Balkans and Turkey with a particular emphasis on securing and stablising Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia.

  • 19 May 2010

    With the objective of comparing the state of play in each of the former Yugoslav countries in relation to the process of European enlargement and to encourage a more effective international engagement in the promotion of integration of the Balkans, the Institute organised, with the support of the Foreign Policy Initiative BiH, a seminar which was held in Sarajevo from 19 to 21 May 2010.

Pages

Pages

  • Download document
    20 September 2017

    Prepared by the EUISS with the support and cooperation of the European Fund for the Balkans (EFB) – examines how the Western Balkans has emerged once again as a potentially volatile geopolitical arena, and analyses the drivers underpinning both fragility and resilience in the countries of the region from a variety of perspectives.

  • Download document
    19 June 2017

    This Report presents a number of grey swan scenarios which are designed to help decision-makers think about possible responses to crises and how they can be prevented. They cover a wide variety of geographical and operational situations while never explicitly calling into question specific EU actions or policies – only general EU principles and interests.

  • Download file
    16 June 2017

    This Brief focuses on the phenomenon of foreign fighters originating from the Western Balkans, and how countries in the region apply double standards in this regard, categorising Islamist foreign fighters as terrorists, whereas right-wing nationalist combatants who have fought in Ukraine are regarded as a secondary concern.

  • 14 June 2017

    This Alert examines recent negative political developments in the Western Balkans, against the backdrop of a worrying drift towards illiberal authoritarianism in countries of the region. It argues that if local political actors do not take tangible steps towards reform to address the ongoing illiberal trends, political instability could re-emerge once again in the region.

  • Download document
    14 June 2017

    This Brief shows that, in the case of the Western Balkans, improving resilience requires a careful analysis of how the enlargement process can be adapted and improved in order to maintain its transformative power, as well as ensure that reforms are both sustainable and irreversible.

  • Download document
    14 June 2017

    This Brief focuses on enhancing state resilience in the energy sector across the Western Balkans and shows how a transition to fully transparent and open energy markets is only possible through regulatory and legislative reform and the establishment of a financially attractive environment for investors.

  • Download document
    15 February 2017

    Four years after Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the ‘New Silk Road’ initiative in 2013, the main thrust of the infrastructure projects has been in Asia. However, the Western Balkans is also becoming increasingly involved in related discussions and projects on its western end.

  • Download document
    10 June 2016

    This Alert seeks to draw attention to the often overlooked problem of Islamic extremist movements in the Balkans. Given the region’s moderate traditions, why are radical Islamist groups now proving so popular?

  • Download document
    08 March 2016

    A month after Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) submitted its membership application to the EU, this Alert takes a closer look at the CSDP relationship between both partners. The signing of a Framework Participation Agreement in September 2015 is arguably part of a drive to put BiH back on the accession track, while reasserting the role of the EU as a relevant security provider.

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    08 March 2016

    After several years of being largely absent from the agenda, the Western Balkans is back in focus largely due to the refugee crisis. How has this changed the way in which states from the region deal with each other and with the EU?

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