UDC 339.92(497-15) 339.923:061.1EU
Biblid: 0543-3657, 73 (2022)
Vol. 73, No 1184, pp. 93-115
DOI: https://doi.org/10.18485/iipe_mp.2022.73.1184.4

Pregledni članak
Received: 25 Jan 2022
Accepted: 20 Feb 2022
CC BY-SA 4.0

Economic Integration in the Western Balkans – Preparation for EU Membership or Replacement for Membership?

Mitrović Sava (Sava Mitrović, mlađi istraživač, Centar za evropske politike, Beograd), sava.mitrovic@cep.org.rs

This paper aims to analyse economic initiatives launched in the Western Balkans. The CEFTA 2006 Agreement, as the only trade initiative established on a stable and contractual basis, represents the core of regional trade relations. On the other hand, the CEFTA has numerous flaws and operational problems, which will be examined further. The author further reviews the development, challenges, and perspectives of other economic and trade arrangements, like those initiated within the Berlin Process (the Regional Economic Area and Common Regional Market), as well as by the Western Balkans leaders themselves (“Mini Schengen”/“Open Balkan”). The main research question addressed in this paper is whether the aforementioned regional initiatives are compatible with the EU accession processes of these countries. The author’s central thesis is that none of these initiatives were created to replace EU membership. Membership remains the primary foreign policy goal of all Western Balkans actors, and each of them could help the region prepare for the challenges of participating in the EU internal market. Moreover, they could be seen as an incentive to implement key reforms as part of the EU accession process.

Keywords: Western Balkans, European Union, CEFTA, Berlin Process, Regional Economic Area, Common Regional Market, Mini Schengen, Open Balkan, regional initiative, accession process, membership