EU accession happens to be a topic of high interest especially to countries of the western Balkans. This article attempts to gather and inculcate arguments by notable scholars.
Balfour and Stratulat (2015) have presented 3 arguments in support of EU accession for the Western Balkans which circle around enlargement as a means of improvement and enhancement of the region, the possible introduction of policies to control interregional migration and the ‘widening’ of EU not being as big of a concern when including the Western Balkans due to its total population size which should pose not much of a problem to EU’s ‘absorption capacity’.
1) Across the board of member states of the EU, enlargement is still perceived as the best way to overcome the legacy of ethnic, social, political, and religious conflict in the Western Balkans, and to anchor long-term stability and peace in the EU.
2) There has been much resentment towards the notion of ‘widening’ EU by adding new countries due to the large-scale migration resulting from the 2004 and 2007 enlargement. However, in practice, there is a less-risk in a repeat of this trend from countries of the western Balkans when they join the EU not only due to their populations being relatively small but also because measures can be included in future accession treaties to avoid problems resulting from migration.
3) Countries such as France and the Netherlands are not in favour of the ‘widening’ of Europe by holding Turkey in great concern. Despite France and Netherlands not directing this fierce disapproval to any Western Balkan country, it is important to acknowledge that the region is not the same as turkey. Turkey is the biggest country ever to apply for EU membership and as a member of EU it would be bigger than the rest. In terms of EU’s ‘absorption capacity’, it then presents a serious problem. However, this is not the case for the Western Balkans where Serbia has a population of 7 million and FYROM with 2 million.
Mungiu-Pippidi (2004) also strongly asserts with specific regards to the Western Balkans that “no barriers based upon ‘civilizational’ legacies should be erected against those who are cultivating the right values for joining Europe” and that “a poor relative learns manners faster within the family than outside it” therefore implying that the Western Balkans are indeed making the efforts to improve themselves in order to join the EU and that they will adopt the values of the EU better when they are inside the EU as opposed to being the out-group.
Balfour, R. and Stratulat, C. (eds.) (2015) EU member states and enlargement towards the Balkans, Issue no. 79, European Policy Centre
Mungiu-Pippidi, A. (2004) “Beyond the new borders”, in Journal of Democracy, Vol. 15 (1), pp. 48-62.