Regional Cooperation in the Western Balkans

Published at: 8 Feb 2021

The new Balkans Group policy report “Regional Cooperation in the Western Balkans” presents a comparative analysis of the Regional Economic Area, the so-called “mini-Schengen” and the Common Regional Market.

Many regional initiatives have been built up in the Western Balkans over the past years, and they continue to pop up every few years. However, their structures remain weak, vulnerable to political shocks and occasional breakdowns, and they bring very limited change to regional cooperation and benefits for the citizens of all countries. Among the many regional initiatives, the most debated have been:

  1. The Regional Economic Area (REA)
  2. The so-called “mini-Schengen”
  3. The Common Regional Market (CRM).

The Western Balkans will have to work on many fronts, including resolving bilateral issues and improving relationships with one another, as the main prerequisite for progress on regional cooperation. In addition, implementation capacities will need to be improved and regional cooperation will need to be higher on the policy agenda for the governments of Western Balkans countries.