Opinion & Analysis

With EU Enlargement it’s two big steps forward for Ukraine but a more dubious one for the Western Balkans

The EU’s enlargement process has been the constant talk of the town since the European Commission delivered its annual Enlargement Package in November 2023. There have been three significant developments of real significance to acknowledge, two on Ukraine which are excellent, the third concerning the Western Balkans which is not quite right yet and requires some additional work.

The first was the European Council’s decision to open accession negotiations with Ukraine. The second was the agreement on the EUR 50 billion aid package for Ukraine, agreed unanimously when Viktor Orban unexpectedly decided not to wield his veto – a result that highlights the merits of sustained diplomacy, rather than condemning Hungary’s prime minister as a paid-off pariah.

The third is the Commission proposal for a Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, with fresh financial incentives offered for reform measures, but – worryingly – with no apparent linkage to the formal enlargement methodology. This is an error that should be rectified, sooner rather than later.


About the Author

Michael Emerson joined CEPS as an Associate Senior Research Fellow in 1998. 


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