John O’ Brennan, Director of European Studies at the National University of Ireland Maynooth, asks if Croatia’s accession to the EU will encourage its neighbours to seek EU membership – or lead to enlargement fatigue.
O’ Brennan says that Croatia’s entry into the EU on 1 July should provide a boost to reform efforts in the western Balkans. However, he argues that the EU’s expansion is no longer viewed as an unalloyed success story.
“There is ample evidence…of the transformative power of the EU to democratize and “Europeanize” states in advance of their accessions,” he writes. But he goes on to say that the situation has changed since earlier enlargement rounds.
“The EU will succeed in transposing its laws, norms and values to accession candidates only if applicant governments take its promises seriously,” he says. “The western Balkans remains a fragile region.”