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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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    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?

  • 12 December 2014

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

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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?

  • 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.

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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.



  • 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.