EU accession is generally believed to be closely related to democratization, especially in the Western Balkans, where EU has been one of the main driving forces of democratization in the region. Also, democracy has been one of the fundamental values of the Union and one of the political criteria, laid down in 1993 at the European Council meeting in Copenhagen, defining eligibility of states to become members of the EU.
However, many believe that democratization and EU accession have stopped being complementary in the Western Balkans. Referring to the phenomenon of “stabilitocracy” – preference of stability over democracy by the EU – many consider the EU to have gone blind towards deterioration of democracy in the region and to have provided support to illiberal or semiautocratic regimes.
All Western Balkans countries aspire to join the EU, and the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union came into force for each country. Four of them – Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania, have been granted candidate status, while two – Montenegro and Serbia, have begun the negotiation process.