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The Politics of European Values in EU's Enlargement: The Case of Western Balkans

Irina Zarin

Values are a varying category that changes through time due to various reasons and for different purposes. European values follow the same pattern. Although, European values, as the founding stone of the EU and the essence of the enlargement process should have a constant character, they seem to frequently change due to challenges that the EU Member States face on the path of widening and deepening the EU. This article attempts to explain how and why certain developments in internal and external politics of the EU Member States affects EU political elites in creating EU conditionality policy towards Western Balkans in the accession phase of the enlargement process. In comparison to the other enlargemet cycles, the Western Balkans is exposed to a more rigid, conditional and controlled accession process aimed at reshaping the "insufficiently adequate" attributes possesed by these countries to fit the EU Member States standards. However, the "reshaping" or even better "re-tailoring" the " European integration suit" worn by political elites sometimes proceeds not in order to advance but rather to hamper the accession process. To illustrate these theoretical insights, I examine the timely fashion of introducing new or to that point irrelevant European values to the accession process so that the efforts of Western Balkans are oriented in the wahted direction. I argue that the lack of homogeneity among EU and Western Balkans political elites determines the outcome of the accession process.

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