New Outlook for the Western Balkans’ EU Accession

On the 6th of February 2018 the Commission adopted a Strategy for a credible enlargement perspective and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The EU-Western Balkans Strategy is grounded on the 6 flagship initiatives targeting specific areas to support the transformation of the Western Balkans with specific actions from 2018-2020:

  • rule of law
  • security and migration
  • socio-economic development
  • transport and energy connectivity
  • digital agenda
  • reconciliation
  • good neighbourly relations

The Strategy also entails a gradual increase of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) until 2020: €1.07 billion of IPA funding has already been earmarked for the Western Balkans in 2018 alone.

With accession talks already underway, Serbia and Montenegro are the only two countries in the region with accession prospects by 2025. Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are making progress towards opening their respective accession negotiations, while Bosnia and Herzegovina has yet to file its membership application. Kosovo, on the other hand, is implementing the Stabilisation and Association Agreement as a pre-condition for accession talks.

For the first time after the 2003 Thessaloniki Summit, the leaders of Europe and the Western Balkans will meet this May at the EU -Western Balkans 2018 Summit in Sofia to jointly discuss the European path of the 6 countries.

Factsheet: 6 Flagship initiatives