Commentary: EU – Western Balkans summit - More reforms, more money

Our Jana Juzová wrote in her commentary about the EU – Western Balkans summit.

  • Wednesday’s Summit of EU and Western Balkans leaders was long-anticipated following the efforts aimed at reviving the EU enlargement process. The Summit was originally planned to be organized in Zagreb, under the Croatian EU presidency, however, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was held as a videoconference. Nevertheless, the fact that the Summit was realized despite the current global situation, even on the scheduled date, demonstrates that the Western Balkan region represents a priority for Croatia as well as the rest of the EU, and that the EU genuinely wants to revitalize the enlargement process.
  • It was expected that the Summit in Zagreb would follow up on the positive developments in the past months, those being the positive decision of the European Council on opening the accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, and the adoption of a new enlargement methodology (i.e. set of rules leading the accession process). However, the Summit’s agenda was naturally influenced by the current COVID-19 pandemic and the central topic was eventually the assistance provided by the EU to the Western Balkan countries and a larger plan for their economic recovery.

The European perspective of the Western Balkan countries was reaffirmed during the video summit, and the leaders of the region, on the other hand, reaffirmed their commitment to the EU. As the new enlargement methodology adopted at the European Council Summit in March indicated, closer attention will be paid to whether the candidate countries truly implement the reforms aimed at strengthening the rule of law and respect the democratic principles. This was also confirmed at yesterday’s summit, and the crucial importance of these fundamental conditions were stressed once again. Adding Albania and North Macedonia to the group of countries negotiating their accession into the EU, together with the stricter conditions of the accession process, provide the possibility of a faster progress of countries that genuinely want to implement the required reforms and respect democratic values, while making it more difficult for countries which do not. 

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#EU # Western Balkans # COVID-19 # Summit

Jana Juzová
Research Fellow

Expertise: regionalism, Visegrad cooperation, democratization and European integration of the Western Balkan countries, EU enlargement

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