European Union’s enlargement fatigue: Russia’s and China’s rise in Southeast Europe?
Keywords:EU enlargement, accession, China, Russia, Southeast Europe, the Balkans
AbstractEnlargement fatigue has descended upon the European Union (EU) institutions, which remain focused on resolving the Brexit crisis and ongoing internal reforms. This multi-faceted phenomenon has directly caused the so-called accession fatigue in potential EU members, which are increasingly turning to other geopolitical alternatives. Russia and China are the new dominant powerbrokers in the EU’s immediate neighbourhood, courting political and business elites in EU candidate states and offering an alternative foreign policy option which contrasts with the stalled EU enlargement process. This paper discusses the rise of these external powers in the EU’s immediate neighbourhood, suggesting three scenarios for the future of the Balkan region where the EU, Russia and China are more vigorously vying for influence than ever before.
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