The state of democracy and freedom has been backsliding or stagnating in the countries of the Western Balkans over the past decade.There is no single turning point for the entire region, but the downward spiral began a decade ago, and accelerated with the economic crisis in 2008 and multiple crises within the EU that distracted the Union from enlargement.
Yet, formally, the countries have all progressed on their paths to EU membership, and the EU has remained rather silent on these developments, even when confronted with concrete evidence, as in the case of the wiretapping scandal in Macedonia or the Savamala incident in Serbia. In the future, the EU needs to sharpen its focus on monitoring the aspiring members on their paths to stable and prosperous democracies governed by the rule of law. If it does not, the risks for the region, and for the EU by extension, are considerable. This BiEPAG policy brief provides a list of policy recommendations in regard of the European integration of the Western Balkans region, which is closely connected with the current state of the democracy in the separate countries.