Eastern Partnership and the Western Balkans have a few important things in common. The countries of both regions regained their independence in 1991-1992 either from the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia, both communist and authoritarian. Both regions have experienced violent conflicts. Most Eastern partners and Western Balkan countries have reached comparable levels of progress in terms of consolidation of democratic institutions.
All the Western Balkan countries and three of the Eastern Partners aspire to EU membership but the EU has acknowledged European perspective of the former but not yet of the latter, although commitments of both groups of countries in terms of EU legal and policy approximation have much in common. Western Balkan Stabilisation and Association Agreements and Association Agreements (DCFTAs) bring both groups into a close functional integration with the EU.
Does the EU have an interest in promoting closer links between the two groups of countries, both of strategic importance to the EU? How can we exploit the commonalities between these two regions to the benefit of their common interests and that of the EU?