This study, prepared by CEPS, brings us a comparative picture of progress among the Western Balkan and EaP EU associated countries. It reveals solid and converging similarities of development and achievements in the EU south-eastern and eastern neighbourhood region.
It raises new questions about EU policy convergence in the region. Are we ready to deploy EU Western Balkan integration instruments to the EaP countries that are ready to accept them? Will the EU be ready to respond in like manner and with the same policy instruments to the two very similar converging groups of countries aspiring to the same strategic goal of EU membership? Now is the time to answer these questions.
This study reveals the essential similarities between these groups of countries and offers bold new ideas for how the EU can incentivise Trio countries further with EU instruments. Incentives, or benefits, are suggested that can work not only for the Western Balkan region, but also for the Trio of EU-associated countries. A range of models for building a New Momentum for closer association and integration with the EU or, as I call them, the EU antechamber membership models, is discussed, along with related conditions and policy benefits. The EU has a historic and geopolitical obligation to assist our partners on their path towards full membership of the EU.