EU Neighbourhood initiative in the Western Balkans
The Western Balkans are a group of countries that are targeted by the European Union enlargement policy. This group is originally constituted by Albania, Croatia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo. Croatia joined the European Union in 2013, and hence is no longer targeted by the Western Balkan EU policy. Among the six remaining countries – also referred as the Western Balkan 6 (WB6) – four are candidate countries to enter the EU (Montenegro, Albania, Serbia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and two (Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo) are potential candidates.
In May 2018, a summit gathering the Western Balkans Leaders and the European Leaders to discuss about the future of the cooperation, took place in Sofia, Bulgaria. This summit lead to the Sofia Declaration. In this declaration, the Wester Balkans representatives re-emphasized their will to become members of the European Union whilst the representatives of the European Union, reaffirmed their support policy towards the admission of the Western Balkans countries as EU members.
The admission of the Western Balkans countries as member states of the European Union is conditioned to various factors. The convergence of the Western Balkans States in terms of socio-economic and political development is at heart of the admission process. This convergence is sought through a set of measures targeting various domains such as preventing organised crime or encouraging neighbourhood stability.
Similarly, enabling a pro-business environment through the development of clusters is a piece of the puzzle towards a more even socio-economic development. By organising cluster matchmaking events, in Thessaloniki, in September 2017 and in Croatia in November 2018, the European Commission reaches out once more to the Western Balkans, to trigger their admission.
Therefore, the ECCP is highly involved in encouraging cluster policies and cluster development in the Western Balkans.