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Brexit in the Balkans

eu-1232430_960_720A day after the UK voters decided to leave the EU, it is not easy to see all the consequences of this decision. But in the general euphoria of statements, one should not forget that Britain did not say “no” to free trade, rule of law, or democracy, but only to one particular form of supranational integration. And the consequences of Brexit will most likely be felt first by the citizens of the United Kingdom, rather than the rest of the “political West”. For instance, the TTIP negotiations stalled several months ago on, among other things, fear of Brexit. Failure of the TTIP would be the biggest immediate collateral damage.

Unfortunately, in Serbia the Brexit (and some other developments in the EU) will allow those who respect neither democracy, nor free economy, nor the rule of law, to procrastinate EU membership ad calendas Graecas. The EU was always a moving target because it expanded, it enlarged and deepened, and still it managed to maintain the process of enlargement. There seem to be no reasons for this not to continue.

But for citizens of Western Balkans it is now important to pay attention to what the new Global Strategy of the EU will look like, and what the NATO Summit conclusions will be. For now, it seems we are headed for closer cooperation between the EU and NATO when it comes to responding to both internal and external challenges. In that sense, the UK did not leave the political West.

Regarding Western Balkans, the UK recently did a review of its foreign policy towards the Balkans, and it seems it intends to remain present through NATO. In that sense NATO could assume a more prominent role of a political factor in the Balkans. Also, it is not likely that the bilateral UK diplomacy would allow the processes it has successfully nurtured in the Balkans to wither away. And this bilateral UK influence can only be positive for Western Balkans.


Jelena Milic, Director, Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies Belgrade

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