The latest contribution to the EASTERN MONITOR series by Christian Kvorning Lassen analyses the 2016 Progress Reports released by the European Commission and points out the main causes for concern.
- The release of the European Commission’s “Enlargement Package” and the associated Progress Reports is always expected with great interest from both candidate countries and EU enlargement watchers alike. The reports present a detailed assessment of the state of play in each candidate and potential candidate country, their achievements, and set out guidelines for reform priorities. As such, the reports play a vital role in the ongoing accession aspirations of the candidate countries, particularly for the six countries in the Western Balkans region.
- However, the 2016 Progress Reports raise several causes for concern from an enlargement perspective. Structural problems persist across the region that need addressing if the EU enlargement agenda is to be truly revived.
Without the carrot of potential membership for the near future, coupled with the vague show of European commitment to further enlargement in the face of ongoing European crises, the Western Balkan countries and their elites have almost exclusively backslid in their reform processes, choosing instead to consolidate their power at the expense of strengthening key institutions.
The enlargement process remains integral to the EU and represents one of the most successful EU policies, even though it is currently not a prominent agenda. The EU needs to re-engage the region in a meaningful way, and vice-versa.
Read the full publication here.