Political relations between the European Union and Serbia in a broader historical perspective : assessing normative obstacles to Serbia's european integration




Markovic, Nina

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This thesis will investigate key trends in the political relationship between the EU and Serbia within a broader historical context. In order to better understand obstacles to EU accession by the remaining non-EU states in the Western Balkans, it is necessary to investigate their normative, or ideational foundations. Serbia is among the last few post-socialist countries from the Western Balkans to negotiate accession conditions with the EU. This is paradoxical in the sense that Serbia is a successor state to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which was the first socialist country to successfully conclude a comprehensive trade agreement with the EU in 1970. Normative and domestic political factors have presented, over the years, serious obstacles to Serbia's European integration process. There are different views about the nature of the political factors that have caused a delay in Serbia's adoption of EU standards and norms. A conventional approach to this research question is to examine Serbia's performance against the strict accession criteria of the EU's political conditionality. This dissertation, however, embarks on analysing the role of normative factors in the complex and inherently social process that is Serbia's European integration. Based on fieldwork interviews with policymakers from Serbia and the EU, this thesis contends that the role of mainstream national discourses, informal institutions and diplomatic practices, and 'collective memory' has had a significant influence on Serbia's adoption of EU standards, directly impacting also on the EU conditionality towards Serbia. The EU's foreign policy towards Serbia produced better results for mutual cooperation when the EU adopted an innovative diplomatic approach by engaging in dialogue with the Serbian opposition.






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