New EU Enlargement Strategy Towards the Western Balkans and Its Impact on Rule of Law

Matić Bošković, Marina and Kostić, Jelena (2021) New EU Enlargement Strategy Towards the Western Balkans and Its Impact on Rule of Law. Slovak Yearbook of European Union Law, 1. pp. 37-58. ISSN 2729-8574

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The rule of law is incorporated in the EU Founding Treaties and case-law of the Court of Justice of the EU and was included as a key requirement already in 1993 Copenhagen accession criteria. The EU enlargement is not only territorial increase, but also transposition of EU acquis to third countries. Since 1993, the monitoring mechanism of the rule of law reform in the EU accession countries was enhanced, including two specific negotiation chapters, Chapter 23 – judiciary and fundamental rights and Chapter 24 – justice, freedom and security. Over the last two decades, the EU was struggling to develop an adequate mechanism in this area, from mechanism for coordination and verification, to action plans for Chapter 23, to more specific tools like perception and experience surveys of the judiciary and functional reviews. Due to the challenges to measure progress and track record in the rule of law, in February 2020 the European Commission presented the new approach to EU Enlargement that aims to push reforms forward. The intention is to make the accession negotiations more credible, predictable and dynamic and criteria for assessing reforms in the accession countries will be based on the clearer criteria and more concise EU requirements. The article examines how EU enlargement policies influenced the rule of law reforms in Western Balkan countries over the years and what could be expected from the new approach. The research hypothesis is based on the correlation between Enlargement strategy towards the Western Balkans and its impact on rule of law in countries of the mentioned region. The methodological approach applied in the assessment is based on analysis of Enlargement strategy and other EU and national documents, as well as results of the work of judicial institutions in order to provide insight into the bottlenecks of the state rule of law in Western Balkan countries and enable identification of recommendations for improvement. The authors concluded that the new methodology would improve the measurability of the achieved results in the rule of law area, however, the approach might slow down the accession process of Serbia and Montenegro as a frontrunners in the process.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: enlargement policy, rule of law, Western Balkans, reform of judiciary, accession negotiations
Subjects: Pravo Evropske unije
Depositing User: Aleksandra Višekruna
Date Deposited: 12 May 2022 16:39
Last Modified: 12 May 2022 16:39

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