From Enlargement Perspective to “Waiting for Godot”? Has the EU Lost Its Transformative Power in the Balkans?
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In: Highs and Lows of European Integration: Sixty Years After the Treaty of Rome ; Antoniolli L, Bonatti L, Ruzza C (2019 ; Cham ; Springer) ; The EU has discovered the necessity of having a foreign policy of its own in the aftermath of the Balkan wars in the 1990s. Territorial conflicts and ethnic cleansing, weak and unfinished States urgently required answers, raising, at the same time, difficult questions of political and economic stability and of constitutional values. After the Eastern Enlargement of 2004, the EU’s enlargement policy has been considered as a successful tool capable of adding transformative power to the EU Foreign Policy through the enlargement perspective and the conditionality of reforms. However, although its instruments have been adapted in order to meet the specific challenges of the Western Balkans, stabilization and sustainable transformation of the States in the area still have to be reached. There are even signs of pre-accession fatigue, on both sides: the status quo seems to be the preferred solution of elites in the Balkans while the EU seems to have lost its interest in the area and, consequently, its transformative power. This contribution will explore the reasons and examine recent initiatives, such as the Berlin process, asking what may be done in order to regain momentum.