The EU Rule of Law Initiative Towards the Western Balkans

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The EU adopted a new enlargement strategy for the Western Balkans countries in 2018, provided a time frame for Serbia and Montenegro potentially to join the Union by 2025, and outlined the next steps for accession for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and North Macedonia. In March 2020, the EU gave the green light to the opening of accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania, and also introduced a new reformed ‘accession talks’ framework. The strengthening of the rule of law, fighting corruption and organised crime are the cornerstones of the EU-Western Balkans strategy of 2018 and the new accession talks framework of 2020. This article examines the latest enlargement policy developments in 2018–2020 by conceptualising how the EU promotes the rule of law in the Western Balkans thorough its new enlargement policy package. Furthermore, the article offers an in-depth analysis of the case of Albania, where the EU has experimented with some of its latest enlargement-policy ideas in regard to the rule of law. The article also offers some proposals and insights on how the EU rule of law initiative of 2018 can be improved, in order to become more transformative in strengthening the rule of law in countries of the Western Balkans.




Hoxhaj, A. (2021). The EU Rule of Law Initiative Towards the Western Balkans. Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, 13(1), 143–172.

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