Challenges and Prospects
Edited by Klaus Liebscher, Josef Christl, Peter Mooslechner and Doris Ritzberger-Grünwald
Chapter 3: The Western Balkans' European perspective
3. The Western Balkans’ European perspective Reinhard Priebe This chapter discusses the key challenges facing the countries of the Western Balkans today: their economic development and their integration into the European Union (EU). There can be no doubt about the European perspective of the ﬁve Western Balkan countries, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro (including Kosovo1). We want them to become members of the EU one day, and they want it. The fact that accession negotiations will soon start with Croatia is proof of that. And we hope that this will inject some new energy into the reform processes in the other countries of the region. Our policy framework to lead the countries to EU membership is the Stabilisation and Association Process. The integration into European structures needs to be preceded by signiﬁcant reforms in most policy areas. The economic revitalization is one of the major challenges the countries of the Western Balkans are facing today, and perhaps the most diﬃcult one. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN THE REGION: A MIXED PICTURE The Western Balkans can take credit for some major achievements, made in a relatively short period of time, in terms of reform and economic recovery. Economic stabilization continued in 2004, with output growth in the region reaching about 4.7 per cent of GDP. There are diﬀerences between the countries, of course. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia and Montenegro have a comparatively high growth level while it...
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