Contemporary Southeastern Europe
The New Environment of EU Enlargement: The Impact of Economic Crisis on the Western Balkans and their EU Accession Prospects
This paper will explore the impact of the economic crisis on the Western Balkan countries, and how the new, unfavourable international environment is affecting their EU accession prospects. The analysis will be presented in three sections: the first part will examine the effect of the “first wave” of the global economic crisis on the economies of the region, specifically the impact on the region’s macroeconomic indicators, foreign direct investment flows, financial sectors, etc. Part two will analyse the repercussions of the “second wave” of the crisis, namely the Greek sovereign debt crisis, which rapidly spilled over into the entire eurozone. Part three will build on the issues examined in parts one and two and will discuss the repercussions of both waves of the crisis on the region’s enlargement process and prospects. The paper will also propose that although the E.U.’s role in Southeast Europe remains crucial (not least as a provider of economic assistance) its hitherto undisputable symbolic role as an “anchor” of stability and as a goal to be aspired to may be losing its appeal for some of these countries.