“European Union Enlargement Policy Towards the Western Balkans: Solidarity Check”, Jure Požgan, Ana Bojinović Fenko and Faris Kočan (CIR, Slovenia)

The chapter addresses the process of the European Union’s enlargement towards the Western Balkan states. It seeks to add to the theorisation of solidarity in international relations (IR) by applying the concept of solidarity to empirical analysis of the EU–WB relationship. The findings show that solidarity as a special relationship has initially been a more relevant framework for understanding the EU–WB relationship. However, the global crises, enlargement fatigue, and great powers competition in the region have forced the EU to strengthen both the special relationship as well as solidarity as a friendship practice. The authors argue that a more assertive strategic communications approach by the EU in the WB states is missing for the EU to be able to continue to strengthen its own legitimacy, the legitimacy of its contribution, and expectations in the solidarity relationship with the WB. They add that, simultaneously, the EU also needs stronger commitment to the liberal values in the EU itself as well as support from other Western powers.

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