The European Union (EU) should by all means assist in resolving conflicts in the Western Balkans, restoring the credibility of its own enlargement agenda, the Brussels-based Center for European Political Studies (CEPS) said on Jan. 18.
Under the title "The EU’s Enlargement Agenda is No Longer Fit for Purpose," the authors promote a proactive diplomatic engagement at all EU levels in the enlargement process, as well is the establishment of an independent neutral body to provide mediation in disputes in parallel with rather than as a precondition for the start of accession negotiations.
The Center also says that the annual country reports issued by the European Commission offer a useful insight into the reform record for each country, but are of limited impact. Even with the two states that have already opened the accession talks, the pace is very slow. The think tank recalls that it took Croatia eight years to complete the accession negotiations and join the Union, whereas in the same period only three out of 35 chapters have been provisionally closed for Montenegro.
There are plenty of disputes in the region, and any of them can be the cause of new instabilities and conflicts "unless channelled properly."