There is a danger today that the window of opportunity for proceeding towards the political and territorial unification of Europe, at least as was conceived by European leaders of the first post-Cold War generation, is going to close in the Western Balkans. The region, indeed, risks being pushed even more to the margins of the EU integration project by COVID-19 pandemic, becoming increasingly an enclave of economic hardships, social tensions and unsettled conflicts in the midst of Europe. Against this backdrop, the ongoing debate on EU strategic autonomy offers an obligatory point of reference to deal with the Balkan conundrum. It gives a fruitful angle to assess both the state of play and the limits of current partnerships between the EU and the Western Balkan countries, and to verify the ambitions of the EU to effectively assert itself as a strategically autonomous actor in the years to come.
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