The 2018 EU enlargement strategy aimed at recreating momentum in EU relations with the Western Balkans and “motivating” both EU aspirants and member states to focus on the work to be done during the next EU institutional cycle. Despite its positive tone, the strategy succeeded only to a limited extent, as its measures are unlikely to reverse the medium- to long-term negative economic and social trends in the Balkans. Meanwhile, general uncertainty and disagreement among EU member states about the future of the European integration project may well undermine the coherence and consistency of EU actions, also in the Balkan region. It is urgent to substantially upgrade the strategy by strengthening its focus on economic development and governance patterns. Despite the difficulties, EU expansion in the Balkans could (and should) find a place in the future agenda of EU consolidation.
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