EPRS Strategy By / January 16, 2016

Enlargement [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski The pace of the European Union’s enlargement has slowed following its historic expansion in 2004-07 to…

pyty / Fotolia

Written by Marcin Grajewski

The pace of the European Union’s enlargement has slowed following its historic expansion in 2004-07 to take in 10 countries from Central and Eastern Europe, as well as Cyprus and Malta. From among EU hopefuls which have been given membership prospects – Turkey and Western Balkan countries – only Croatia joined the EU in 2013. Accession negotiations continue with Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey. Iceland has dropped its membership bid. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said he does not expect any new country to join the EU during his term in office, which ends in 2019, a statement confirmed in the European Commission’s most recent enlargement strategy.

The EU hails enlargement as one of its most successful policies as it enforces reforms in candidate countries and expands the zone of democracy and stability in Europe. But many analysts and politicians say that before expanding further, the EU must overcome its numerous, internal problems as well as give time to potential entrants to prepare themselves for membership, notably in areas such as respect for fundamental rights and anti-corruption policies.

This note offers links to a series of recent studies from major international think tanks and research institutes on the enlargement process and the challenges faced by countries aspiring to EU membership.


European Union Enlargements
pyty / Fotolia

The EU’s enlargement strategy 2015: Will the ‘new elements’ make a difference? Centre for European Policy Studies, November 2015

Westbalkan als Kollateralschaden der europäischen Passivität? Aktuelle Entwicklungen im Lichte der EU-Erweiterungspolitik und der Flüchtlingsproblematik  Österreichische Institut für Internationale Politik, November 2015

Die zwei Gesichter der deutschen Erweiterungspolitik gegenüber dem Westlichen Balkan Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik, September 2015

EU member states and enlargement towards the Balkans European Policy Centre, July 2015

The challenge of freedom in South-eastern Europe Centre for Eastern Studies, July 2015

EULEX: a mission in need of reform and with no end in sight Elcano Royal Institute, July 2015

European integration of the Western Balkans: Can the Visegrad Group countries serve as role models?

Center for EU Enlargement Studies, Slovak Foreign Policy Association, May 2015

Visa liberalisation process and the way forward: Suggestions for a strategic approach to the political dialogue with Brussels Group for Legal and Political Studies, May 2015

Sharing experience of Visegrad countries EU economic integration and Georgia’s successful institutional reforms for Albania and Kosovo Institute for Public Policies and Good Governance, Policy and Management Consulting Group, April 2015

The Western Balkans Between Europe and Russia Centre for Security Studies, March 2015

Right goals, wrong tools? Civil society empowerment in the EU accession process Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik, February 2015

Balkan revival: Kick-starting stalled policies Friends of Europe, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, February 2015

The EU’s enlargement agenda: Credibility at stake? Centre for European Policy Studies, October 2014

Can the European public block the enlargement to the Western Balkans? Institute of International Relations, Prague, October 2014


A new episode in EU-Turkish relations: Why so much bitterness? German Marshall Fund, December 2015

Turkey’s EU perspective: How the refugee crisis has accelerated membership negotiations European Future, December 2015

Turkey’s 10 Years of EU accession negotiations: No end in sight Elcano Royal Institute, October 2015

Turkey’s trade in search of an external anchor: The neighbourhood, the customs union or TTIP? Stiftung Mercator, Istituto Affari Internazionali, Istanbul Policy Centre, April 2015

A critical evaluation from the perspective of Turkey’s EU negotiations Finnish Institute for International Affairs, February 2015


Young people in Serbia 2015: Situation, perceptions, beliefs and aspirations Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, November 2015

Ohne Kompass Richtung Brüssel? Serbien zwischen EU-Annäherung und russischer Vereinnahmung Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik, September 2015

Civil society networks in the EU integration of Serbia Polish Institute of International Affairs, April 2015

Introduction to Serbia’s negotiations with the EU on chapter 30 : external relations Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, International and Security Affairs Centre. Centar za Evropske Politike, November 2014

Between discretion and professionalism: Merit-based recruitment policy in the context of Serbia’s accession negotiations with the EU European Policy Centre, November 2015

Other countries

Montenegro’s Marathon: Halfway to the EU, Last Lap to NATO Polish Institute of International Affairs, July 2015

Macedonia: Defusing the bombs International Crisis Group, July 2015

Policy options for economic growth and competitiveness of Kosovo Wiener Institut für Internationale Wirtschaftsvergleiche, May 2015

Fortschritt trotz Stillstand: Bosnien-Herzegowina rückt näher an die EU, ohne den Reformstau zu beenden Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, May 2015

The worsening crisis in Macedonia: Waiting for EU leadership Centre for European Policy Studies, April 2015

Saving democracy in Macedonia: What to do after the wire-tapping scandal Center for Research and Policy Making, March 2015

Filling the black hole: Bringing Kosovo into international police cooperation organizations Group for Legal and Political Studies, March 2015

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Back on an EU Track European Union Institute for Security Studies, March 2015

Bosnia as Wunderkind of doing business. Outline of 14 steps to take: A proposal to the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina European Stability Initiative, March 2015

Bosnia in turmoil: Does the EU’s transformative power still exist? Madariaga College of Europe Fundation, February 2015

Albania’s EU accession: Is it risking a 2009 déjà vu? Institute for Democracy and Mediation, December 2014

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