People in the Balkans still support EU integration

Employment and Social Affairs

Estimated time of reading: ~ 2 minutes  

European membership stands out as one of the main goals for all the nations in the Western Balkans, as people from Serbia, Bosnia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Albania see the EU as an opportunity for economic growth, democratic development, and the creation of well-functioning institutions.

In recent years, the EU enlargement process has come to an impasse in the region, despite the efforts from both Brussels and local governments to achieve some results on the issue. This dynamic has created a fracture between the public opinion in the Balkan countries and the EU institution, as a real will for continuing the European integration process looks more clear in Skopje or Tirana than in the main EU capitals. Still, recent surveys show that public support for European membership varies significantly across the whole region.

While in countries such as Bosnia and Kosovo there is a positive view on EU integration, in Serbia the situation has shifted in a few years from general support to a rather limited one. According to a survey conducted by the Serbian Minister for EU integration, only 43% of the population said they would vote in favor of EU accession in a future referendum. Even Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic said recently that the country was “not enthusiastic” about European Union membership anymore. The concept of EU integration still sends good vibes in North Macedonia, where more than three people out of four believe in their country’s future membership in the European Union, despite the slow pace of Skopje’s bid for accession. People in Albania are even eager to join the EU, while their candidacy has been linked to North Macedonia’s one.

Besides the integration process, the EU still plays an important diplomatic role in the region, with the latest example of this being the negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo and the agreement made in Ohrid last week on implementing a deal to normalize ties between the two countries. It may take years, but people in the Balkans still hope to become EU citizens in the next future. 

Written by: Francesco Marino

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