This policy brief assesses how politicisation of the EU’s enlargement strategies thwarts the Europeanisation process in the Western Balkans. It argues that compromising on or adding extra demands to the accession criteria undermines the credibility and effectiveness of the process, underpinning this by discussing developments such as the recent protests across the region, the conclusion of the Prespa agreement between Greece and North Macedonia, and the 2015 migration crisis. At the same time, the paper questions the idea that a completely technical and straightforward accession process is attainable. It searches to find a balance between effective engagement and damaging politicisation of the enlargement process. The brief finally recommends on how to revive the credibility of the enlargement process, amongst other things through recognising the eventual accession perspective of the Western Balkan six, engaging with Western Balkans countries beyond the formal accession process and adjusting strategies towards incumbent leaders in the region.
Between effective engagement and damaging politicisation