UDC 327(4-672EU:497)
Biblid: 0025-8555, 71(2019)
Vol. 71, No 1, pp. 26-49
DOI: https://doi.org/10.2298/MEDJP1901026K

Оriginal article
Received: 18 Dec 2018
Accepted: 04 Feb 2019


KOVAČEVIĆ Maja (Vanredni profesor na Fakultetu političkih nauka Univerziteta u Beogradu), maja.kovacevic@fpn.bg.ac.rs

The European Union (EU) is a unique player in the Western Balkans, where it has employed a wide array of foreign policy instruments since the 1990s such as diplomacy, trade, financial assistance, civilian missions, military missions, and enlargement, which is the EU’s most successful foreign policy tool. The region is an inspiring case for studying the EU’s transformative power. The undeniable success of the EU’s Enlargement Policy in influencing transitions of Central and Eastern Europe countries has inspired research of the Europeanization, or the EUʼs transformative power in relation to candidate countries, and its impact on their political and economic reforms during the accession process. Since then, the EU’s global transformative power has been in crisis. The European Neighbourhood Policy was reviewed in 2015, aiming not any more towards the transformation of neighbouring states, but rather at fostering their resilience. Similarly, the 2016 Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy set the principled pragmatism as a guideline. Moreover, the EU’s transformative power towards member states is questioned after two initiatives to trigger Article 7 TEU procedures against Poland and Hungary. What about the Europeanization of the Western Balkans? Despite the fact that the EU has been the main driver of change, the Europeanization of this post-conflict region has been slow. According to Freedom House, after substantial progress from 2004 to 2010, the Western Balkans has declined six years in a row, and its average Democracy Score in 2016 is the same as it was in 2004. With the exception of Albania, the scores of all countries are declining, not improving. The EUʼs security-democratisation dilemma strongly affects its transformative power in the Western Balkans. By prioritising effective government rather than democratic governance, the EU has helped stabilise non-democratic and corrupt regimes rather than transforming them, legitimising Balkan ʻstabilitocratsʼ.

Keywords: European Union, transformative power, Western Balkans, democratization, European Neighbourhood Policy