The meaning of the Western Balkans concept for the EU: genuine inclusion or polite exclusion?

L. Lika*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article explains the meaning of the Western Balkans concept in the European Union (EU) political discourse through the prism of the constructivist approach of International Relations (IR). This term was conceived and institutionalized to designate more precisely the countries included in the Stabilization and Association Process (SAP). This article shows that the Western Balkans concept, as a political and social construct, is used strategically by the EU and leads to exclusion rather than inclusion. The countries that are or that become EU member states are no longer qualified as Balkan but as European, while those left outside the gates are categorized as Western Balkans, which are often associated with the pejorative concept of balkanization.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalSoutheast European and Black Sea Studies
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Feb 2023


  • Western Balkans
  • European Union
  • enlargement
  • Europeanization
  • Balkanization

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