The European Union New Methodology and its long-term impact on accession negotiations

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On July 15, 2019, the French President Emmanuel Macron visited Serbia. At that moment in time, North Macedonia was already waiting to start accession negotiations based on the fulfilment of the Copenhagen criteria and the resolution of the bilateral issue with Greece. Albania was also knocking on EU doors completing the final reforms required from her. The non-decision at the meetings of the Council of the European Union in October 2019 was a clear reflection of the state of democracy in Serbia, a country that has been negotiating since 2014. This French drive, followed by the Netherlands, towards non-decision in 2019 for North Macedonia and Albania was elaborated based on issues relating to the perceived ineffectiveness of the accession process and its potential to transform the Western Balkan societies. Duly motivated by the happening in Serbia, the change of the rules of the game in its full potential will be felt only by those remaining Western Balkan countries that have not started the accession negotiations yet.

Following these events, the French proposed, and the European Commission picked up, a modification that would initiate the process of overhauling the accession process. Thus, on 5 February, the Commission launched the Communication on “Strengthening the accession process: A credible EU perspective for the Western Balkans”. It was endorsed by the Council on 25th of March 2020, with the aim to drive forward the EU accession process, by making it more credible, more dynamic and predictable.

Has this been the case? What are the longterm effects of this modification? Has the methodology changed the accession process for good? Is the methodology being applied even since? Are the same rules applied for the new negotiating countries as for the once already negotiating? What is current state of play in the Western Balkans? This are all question that this policy paper will examine. Based on the findings, the authors would formulate recommendation how the goals and objectives of the new methodology could be achieved and really produce the effect and have a ground-breaking impact on the democratisation and Europeanisation of the countries in the Western Balkans. This policy paper is a product of more than dozens of policy documents written by the authors on the topic.

Read the policy paper here:

The European Union New Methodology and its long-term impact on accession negotiations

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