In Croatia's slipstream or on an alternative road? Assessing the objective case for the remaining Western Balkan states acceding into the EU

Milenko Petrovic, Nicholas Ross Smith

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Since the 'mega-enlargement' of the European Union into the erstwhile communist territories of Eastern Central Europe and the Baltics in 2004/2007, the prospect for further EU enlargement(s) has seriously dissipated. Terms such as 'enlargement fatigue' and 'absorption capacity' have become en vogue in the post-2007 enlargement setting where older EU member states have developed negative attitudes towards future enlargements. However, the accession of Croatia into the EU in 2013 has inevitably raised questions of which states or regions could be next. This paper contends that due to a multitude of issues surrounding Turkey, particularly the political impasse within the EU towards Turkish accession coupled with its sheer size, only the smaller states of the Western Balkans represent viable candidates (Iceland's accession prospects have stalled significantly due to internal pressures). This paper argues that the limits of EU eastern enlargement are set by both prevailing (subjectively defined) political attitudes founded on various grounds in the leading EU member states and by the rationally defined objective capacity of the EU's institutions to absorb potential new member states. It is through the latter, and in comparison to the three most recent accession states - Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia - which this paper attempts to assess the objective potential of the remaining Western Balkan states to accede into the EU in the near future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-573
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Southeast European and Black Sea
Volume13
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • EU enlargement
  • Western Balkans
  • absorption capacity
  • enlargement fatigue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Political Science and International Relations

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