The Berlin Process and Beyond – An Opportunity to Upgrade the EU Integration Dynamics of the Western Balkans or What?
This study aims to test whether the Berlin Process yielded novel and accelerated progress as an opportunity to upgrade the EU integration dynamics of the Western Balkans. It employs a longitudinal analysis using a qualitative approach to objectively interpret and evaluate the Berlin Process based on identifying, analyzing, and evaluating the primary and secondary sources. The results show that this process served as a filler to make up for the EU's stray-off from the enlargement project. At the same time, implementation of commitments and achievements remained a paper exercise lacking materialization on the ground. The agreement to extend the Berlin Process beyond 2018 came from the EU's reluctance and inability to reset the enlargement agenda in this region rather than from the Berlin Process's success, as some contend. This study's novelty is that the analysis encompasses in an overarching approach the 2014-2018 performance, its outcomes with the 2018 reloading of the process, and its impact on the Western Balkans' path because of eventual EU integration of this region. It recommends concrete and proactive EU re-engagement in the process, a clear vision and perspective to WB countries, a new policy and strategy, and structured monitoring and checking mechanisms and indicators to take stock of the progress made and further prospect. WB countries should deliver on commitments undertaken and be committed to forging reforms ahead. The study offers a modest contribution to the academic debate about the EU and WB through the Berlin Process and beyond, aiming to predict its potential future and work for its success.
Keywords: Berlin Process, Western Balkans, European integration, dynamics, initiative.
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