Policy Brief: Countering the Rule of Law Backsliding in the Western Balkans

Source: Christian Lou/Unsplash

Which policy measures does the EU need to act against the rule of law decline in the Western Balkans? Three proposals are outlined in this policy brief.

Seventeen years after the big bang enlargement and with the start of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE), the European Union (EU) and the Western Balkan countries are facing the challenge of a rule of law backsliding. The rule of law backsliding is not only posing a risk for the EU’s internal democ­ratic foundation but also contributes to the argumen­tation of a de facto hold on all future enlarge­ments of the EU.

The Policy Brief seeks to put forward three recom­men­da­tions that take account of the current state of the EU, the rule of law situation and democ­ratic backsliding of the pre-accession countries in the Western Balkans.

First, rule of law and enlargement must be put high on the agenda of the Conference on the Future of the Europe as it is also about the future of the Western Balkans. Second, the EU needs to increase efforts to promote the rule of law in the Western Balkans and call democ­ratic backsliding by its name, including more substantial political conse­quences. Third, the EU needs to pursue the renewal of transat­lantic cooper­ation for this purpose with regard of the increas­ingly compet­itive influence of anti-liberal actors in the region.

The Policy Brief is published in the framework of the WB2EU-Project. The project aims at the estab­lishment of a network of renowned think-tanks, do-tanks, univer­sities, higher education insti­tutes and policy centres from the Western Balkans, neigh­bouring countries and EU member states that will be most decisive for the enlargement process and Europeani­sation of the region in the upcoming years. The WB2EU project is co-funded by the European Commission under its Erasmus+ Jean Monnet programme.

Countering the Rule of Law Backsliding in the Western Balkans