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Croatian yearbook of European law & policy, Vol.10 No.10 December 2014. -

The accession of Croatia to the European Union is yet another

milestone in the history of EU enlargements. After seven enlargement

rounds the membership has increased from the original

six founding countries to twenty-eight Member States. Many claim,

quite rightly, that the enlargement policy is the most successful of the

EU’s foreign policy tools. Even those who bring this bold argument into

doubt have to agree that, when contrasted with other external policies,

and the European Neighbourhood Policy in particular, the overall

balance sheet of the enlargement policy is positive. The accession of

Croatia is symbolic in a number of ways. As argued in this article, it

closes one big chapter in the history of EU enlargements but, at the

same time, opens another. Croatia is – most likely – the last country to

join the EU this decade. After a sometimes painful pre-accession process,

it has proved to be a ‘success story’ of the stabilisation and association

process. As the European Commission claims, it is living proof

that the raison d’être and mechanics of the policy employed vis-à-vis

the Western Balkans have their merits. However, a quick look into

the future proves that the next enlargements will be far more complicated

affairs. The current list of candidates and potential candidates

is a mix of a heavyweight Turkey and the Western Balkan countries,

all struggling to meet the fundamental prerequisites for a democracy

based on the rule of law. Failure to comply with the Copenhagen criteria,

together with a dwindling appetite for further enlargement among

some Member States, create a rather dangerous mix. This article argues

that following recent enhancements to the pre-accession policy,

further improvements are necessary to make future expansions of the

European Union possible. If only from the geo-political perspective,

this is in the joint interest of the European Union, its Member States

and the countries of the Western Balkans.

Autor: Mirna Vlašić Feketija - Adam Łazowski -



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