The geographical proximity of the Western Balkans makes the region of particular importance for the EU. Each country is undertaking economic and political reforms – supported by the EU – bringing them closer in line with the EU.
The term ‘Western Balkans’ covers Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo under UN Security Resolution 1244, Montenegro and Serbia. With the exception of Albania, they were all a part of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
After the break-up of Yugoslavia, the EU established the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe to stimulate economic and political reform in the Western Balkans, Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova. An EU monitoring mission was established to follow political, security and inter-ethnic issues, along with refugee returns.
At theof June 2003 all of the Western Balkans was considered potential future members of the EU. They have since moved towards EU integration; with varying progress. Whereas Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro have already been granted the status of candidate countries, the others remain potential candidates. Relations between them and the EU are founded upon .
The agreement establishes free trade areas both with the EU and between the countries of the Western Balkans.
, under UN resolution 1244, has a special status. It has not yet signed a stabilisation and association agreement, but is nonetheless engaged with the Union – the EU currently operates a rule of law and a policing mission there.