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From fatigue to resistance: EU enlargement and the Western Balkans

Economides, Spyros (2020) From fatigue to resistance: EU enlargement and the Western Balkans. Working Paper (17). The Dahrendorf Forum, Berlin, DE.

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In the recent past, the narrative of prospective European Union enlargement has been dominated by ‘enlargement fatigue’: the idea that Europeans and their leaders were not ready or felt unable to absorb new members to the club for fear of overwhelming its processes and institutions while undermining their own economic prospects. Today, this narrative has changed to one of ‘enlargement resistance’. Opposition to enlargement is now no longer only based on the notion of ‘absorption capacity’: the twin obstacles of internal fragmentation and disintegration, and the inability of the candidate states to meet the demands of the accession process are exerting a powerful influence. Crisis in Europe has seen a turn to populism, nationalism, and disputes about the nature of European integration, all of which militate against the possibility of enlargement. In addition, candidate states, and other prospective members of the EU, are both unable and unwilling to make the necessary political and economic changes needed for accession. This paper argues that the policy of EU enlargement is now contingent on the double resistance offered by internal fragmentation and external inability to comply with accession criteria. As a result, enlargement is likely to stall, even in those Western Balkan countries apparently closest to meeting the criteria for accession.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 The Author
Divisions: European Institute
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Date Deposited: 14 May 2020 08:12
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 23:50

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