Bertelsmann Stiftung (ed.)

The Long Way Round

Lessons from EU-CEE for improving integration and development in the Western Balkans

Format Type
Date of publication
1. edition
54 pages, PDF


Free of charge


In the current study we ask whether and how the successful CEE countries’ example of regional economic integration and economic development as part of broader EU integration can be replicated in the Western Balkans.

Our main findings are that the best way to foster regional economic integration and development in the Western Balkans would be through policies aimed at raising incomes, and that one way in which this can be achieved is by increasing EU transfers. This also means full access to the EU budget with the necessary conditionality attached. Even if full accession is still some way off, increasing regional economic integration and development would make the Western Balkan countries better able to meet the EU’s entry criteria. Moreover, it could also contribute to mitigating the region’s territorial and constitutional disputes, which also represent some of the main barriers to EU accession.

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Cover Strategies for the EU Neighbourhood

Security and freedom will only endure in Europe if the countries neighbouring the EU continue to develop democratically and economically. For this reason, determining how the transformation to democracy, the rule of law and a social market economy can succeed is at the heart of our project on the EU’s Neighbourhood Policy.

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