Manja DJURIC DZAKIC, PhD
Summary. The enlargement process of the European Union represents a tool for social transformation. States of the European Union and the enlargement countries undergoing significant change through democratic and economic reforms initiated the process of accession. The rule of law is a major challenge and a requirement for membership in the Union. The priorities are: further reform of the justice system, the fight against crime and corruption and building institutions.
Regional cooperation encourages reconciliation and integration into the Union itself. It is an essential element of the Stabilisation and Association Process and through it is realized transformational power of the enlargement process. The process of EU enlargement has contributed to the overall democratic and economic transformation in the region.
Key words: European Union, Western Balkan region, Stabilisation and Association Process with the European Union
The EU Strategy towards the Western Balkans has been developing gradually in the 90s of the last century, partly as a response to the challenges in the region, partly as a result of the Union’s own evolution. Institution building is in the hands of the European Commission and the compatibility with EU standards. Stabilisation and Association Process represents according to the above mechanism for the transfer of the acquis and fostering institutional convergence.
The crisis in the Balkans is seen as a historical specificity of the region. In addition to this it has been allocated to several sources of weakness of the state and they are: the impact of policy choices influence the constitutional order and the impact of the project of the dominant post-communist elites. The European Union is committed to a regional approach towards the Western Balkans in order to achieve greater stability among the recently warring countries and the normalization of relations between them. The role of the Union is mainly as stabilizer.
The regional approach was based on the assumption that the Western Balkans region shares common problems requiring common solutions, which should be the basis for achieving long-term stability in the region. Solutions that are involved are the creation of a free trade area, trade preferences, even the creation of a customs union within the region to develop, as regional cooperation has become a prerequisite of establishing close relations with the European Union which was a novelty in the European practice, particularly in relation to previous enlargements. The basic principles of European integration are contractuality, effectiveness and development. The principle of association highlights the fact that the European Union is basically a voluntary association of European countries that have recognized that certain issues can be effectively addressed only through joint efforts. Contractuality principle relies on the principle of association and underlines the fact that the state by voluntary entry into the Union enters into certain contractual relationships from which it derives its rights and obligations arising from membership. The European Commission’s annual reports on the progress of the Western Balkans towards EU membership give the conclusions and recommendations that facilitate the enlargement process. The goal of EU enlargement is to spread peace, stability, democracy and prosperity.
Senior Teaching Assistant at Faculty of Political Sciences at the University of Banja Luka, BiH