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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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    01January 2006

    Quand on aime, on ne compte pas, dit la sagesse populaire. A contrario donc, les batailles sévères entre Etats membres sur l’avenir du budget européen en disent long sur la double crise de confiance et de solidarité que traverse l’Union depuis plus de six mois. Au point que l’on peut se demander si ce sont bien les « non » français et néerlandais au référendum sur la Constitution qui ont déclenché la crise, ou s’ils n’ont été finalement que les déclencheurs ou les révélateurs d’une rupture plus profonde depuis longtemps présente dans la dynamique européenne.

  • 19December 2005

    The EUISS held a seminar in order to exchange information on the state of affairs in the countries of the Western Balkans on the eve of Kosovo status negotiations, and to assess the likely impact of the latter on the region.

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    01December 2005
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    Historically speaking, security and defence are late arrivals on the European agenda. But like all young things, the European security and defence policy is growing fast. We have put in place the necessary decision-making structures and launched a process to enhance European capabilities, which has been given fresh impetus with the creation of the European Defence Agency.

  • 01August 2005

    Five years after the fall of Slobodan Milosevic, it is still not clear where Serbia is heading. Indeed, it is not yet clear what, or even where Serbia is. Serbia’s borders and statehood remain open questions: the future status of Kosovo is unresolved and the survival of the State Union with Montenegro in doubt. As long as Serbia does not know what and where it is, its progress towards EU integration will be impeded.

  • 07April 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.

  • 08November 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.

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    01October 2004

    The countries of the Western Balkans are moving on: from postwar reconstruction and stabilisation to consolidating democratic states, implementing economic reform, and preparing for EU accession. The EU has confirmed that ‘The future of the Balkans is within the European Union’, and all the states of the region now share that vision. Much can be learned from the Central and East European experiences of transition and integration, and the EU itself is better prepared than it was in the early 1990s.

  • 02July 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.

  • 01April 2004

    Parliamentary elections in Croatia and Serbia in late 2003 brought the question of nationalism in the Balkans back onto the agenda. In Croatia, former President Franjo Tudjman's party, the HDZ, returned to power, while in Serbia, the Radical Party led by war crimes indictee Vojislav Seselj won the largest share of the vote.

  • 01March 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.

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    01October 1994

    The Yugoslav crisis, posing for over three years now a challenge to the crisis-management ability of the international community, it has influenced the restructuring of post-Cold War security relations and has complicated Western Europe's development of a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and search for a new role in international affairs.

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    01March 1994

    As a member of the first team of research fellows at this Institute, from 1990 to 1993, Nicole Gnesotto made an invaluable contribution to the Institute's work. After leaving the Institute, she kindly agreed to write a paper on developments in former Yugoslavia. We are glad to publish this essay which, in a stimulating and original way, raises a number of important questions on the lessons to be learnt from the developments in former Yugoslavia and Western policy reactions.

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