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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. In June 2018, the European Council agreed to conditionally open the accession negotiations with Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in June 2019. The prospect of EU membership remains open to the potential candidates: Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

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    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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    29 January 2016

    With the suspicion that two newly-registered refugees carried out the November Paris attacks, this Alert explores – and debunks – fears that refugee flows from the Middle East have become a backchannel for terrorists entering Europe.

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    10 December 2015

    Given the radically altered international environment, how can the EU best adapt its border regime? This Brief shows how it will require an innovative response, rather than replicating at an EU level the classical attributes of a national model.

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    04 December 2015

    This Brief examines the first use of the Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR) arrangements in response to the refugee crisis in Europe. How do they work? Can this new instrument foster a real joined-up approach to EU crisis response?

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    04 December 2015

    Member states have twice come close to activating the EU’s ‘solidarity clause’, and both cases have involved an internal security crisis with roots outside the Union. But will EU member states only properly support each other if they also feel able to eliminate the root causes overseas?

  • 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.

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    13 November 2015

    This Brief demonstrates how the push and pull dynamics with regard to migration have changed dramatically since 2008. What new factors are pushing humans to leave their homes behind? And will the West will now have to adapt its appeals to universalism?

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    12 June 2015

    This Chaillot Paper looks at CSDP operations and missions, and explores how they fit into the broader crisis management environment and multilateral efforts towards international peace. It highlights the inherent constraints facing CSDP and how these inevitably limit its overall impact or degree of success. The paper also examines the EU’s added value and the extent to which CSDP is moving forward at various levels.

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    20 March 2015

    Two decades after the Dayton Peace Agreement, Bosnian politics remains paralysed. What is Europe doing to assist Bosnia and Herzegovina on its path to EU membership? And what are the major obstacles facing the divided country?

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    13 November 2015

    This Brief demonstrates how the push and pull dynamics with regard to migration have changed dramatically since 2008. What new factors are pushing humans to leave their homes behind? And will the West will now have to adapt its appeals to universalism?

  • Download document
    12 June 2015

    This Chaillot Paper looks at CSDP operations and missions, and explores how they fit into the broader crisis management environment and multilateral efforts towards international peace. It highlights the inherent constraints facing CSDP and how these inevitably limit its overall impact or degree of success. The paper also examines the EU’s added value and the extent to which CSDP is moving forward at various levels.

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    20 March 2015

    Two decades after the Dayton Peace Agreement, Bosnian politics remains paralysed. What is Europe doing to assist Bosnia and Herzegovina on its path to EU membership? And what are the major obstacles facing the divided country?

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    14 November 2014

    Despite the EU’s continued commitment to integrating the countries of the Western Balkans, progress is largely stalled for reasons which range from sovereignty and border disputes to electoral deadlock. This Alert provides an overview of the current state of play in a region which is key to the success of the EU’s foreign policy.

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    24 July 2014

    Le Conseil de sécurité a tenu en juin dernier un débat sur le maintien de la paix ; le Secrétaire général y a demandé une nouvelle revue de ce qu’il considère comme l’ « activité phare » de l’ONU. Cet Alert replace ces développements dans le contexte élargi de l’après-Srebrenica.

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    27 June 2014

    In the week marking the centenary of the assassinations in Sarajevo that triggered the First World War, this Alert looks back at Bosnia’s violent trajectory over the past hundred years and assesses the situation in the country today. From this historical perspective, it examines in particular what lessons the Bosnia experience might hold for the current crisis in Ukraine.

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    13 December 2013

    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?

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    21 June 2013

    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.

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    29 April 2013

    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.

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    28 January 2013

    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.

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  • 07 April 2005

    This seminar was organised by the G17 Institute with the assistance of EUISS in Belgrade and sought to introduce Serbian and Montenegrin policy makers, academic experts and journalists to the European Security and Defence Policy and the EU’s Security Strategy.

  • 08 November 2004

    This seminar drew together experts to analyse and debate ‘failing states’ – long a matter of concern to policy-makers in the field of economic development, but now high on the international security agenda.

  • 02 July 2004

    The EUISS Balkans Task Force met in Paris on 2 July, 2004 to discuss the domestic constraints and possibilities in Serbia and Kosovo, and evaluate the state of play in EU policy towards the region.

  • 01 March 2004

    The ninth meeting of the Institute’s Task Force on the Balkans convened on 1 March 2004 to debate the recent elections in Croatia and Serbia. The key questions were the reasons why voters had turned to nationalist and, in the Serbian case, extremist parties, and what could be expected from the new governments.

  • 01 September 2003

    With the current 'big bang' enlargement nearing its conclusion, it has become crucial to assess if and to what extent the European Union can and will widen further. The ISS devoted a seminar to this issue, with participants from both current and future member states.

  • 07 March 2003

    The 8th meeting of the Institute’s Task Force on South-Eastern Europe was held on 7 March 2003 in Paris. Attended by a number of European and American officials and experts, this session assessed the convergences and divergences between EU and US policy in the Western Balkans today and the next imperatives of the international community’s agenda for the region.

  • 08 February 2002

    The sixth meeting of the Institute’s task force on South-Eastern Europe took place in Paris on 8 February and addressed the so-called ‘Albanian Question’ with a number of prominent experts from the region as well as European policymakers.

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