The Strategic Role of External Actors in the Western Balkans

The importance of the Western Balkans and the region’s future for the European Union can be seen by the effort the Union puts into them. European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi announced in October 2020 that the EU plans to invest €9 billion in the region, under the Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA III) between 2021 and 2027. Additionally, the EU aims to provide guarantees of €20 billion of investments through the new Western Balkans Guarantee Facility, and has also supported the Western Balkans in the global COVID-19 pandemic with €3.3 billion.

Particularly in times of this pandemic and the economic crisis that accompanies it, we do not want to perceive the efforts made in the region by different countries as a race or competition. Any help is welcome and will support the region to develop further. Accordingly, this study aims to provide an objective analysis of the dimensions and nature of assistance and its strategic importance in the Western Balkans.

We are convinced that the European Union will only be complete with the accession of the Western Balkans. Therefore, we hope that the results of this study will contribute to a better understanding about the role and concrete goals of other external actors in the region, and in further consequence will lead to an enhanced rapprochement between the EU and the countries from the Western Balkans.