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A Template for Staged Accession to the EU

A comprehensive and innovative proposal for making the EU enlargement policy fit for the challenges of today.

The Template proposes an elaborate model for the Western Balkans’ accession to the EU, outlining a four-stage process designed to address key enlargement-related challenges and restoring the long-absent positive momentum to the European project. To ensure its operationalisation, it provides a detailed roadmap for a more structured, gradual and reversible accession process, and explains in institutional and legal terms how this could be implemented in practice.

By building upon the revised enlargement methodology, the idea is to deliver more benefits for citizens and provide greater incentives for political elites to engage in reforms in the candidate countries already during the pre-accession stages. In addition, it addresses concerns about the difficulties of decision-making in an enlarged but unreformed Union by introducing temporary institutional limitations and enhanced post-accession monitoring for new member states. This is to ensure that the enlargement can take place even if the EU’s internal reforms remain unfinished by the time a candidate country fulfils accession requirements. With such arrangements, the Model encourages simultaneous deepening and widening of the Union, without necessarily conditioning the latter with the former.

Acknowledging the importance of reaching consensus on this matter, the Template calls for political leaders in both the EU and the Western Balkans to signal their interest in this idea in order to stimulate a policy debate and work towards defining a formal proposal.

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