The European Union’s Impact on Conflict between Kosovo and Serbia

Launched in August 2014, this project builds on the work of a previous research initiative on the European Union (EU) and state building in the Western Balkans.

The signing of the EU mediated agreement between Kosovo and Serbia in April 2013 has left researchers, policy makers and the general public with something of an analytical puzzle: what explains the sudden willingness of the two governments to cooperate after more than 15 years of approaching each other in zero-sum terms? More specifically, a number of unanswered questions are increasingly relevant to regional conflict management:

  • To what degree and in what ways has EU engagement been the critical ingredient in the negotiations?
  • What explains the EU’s strong commitment and engagement in the talks between Serbia and Kosovo, and what means has it employed to bring about agreement?
  • What are the long-term incentives at the EU’s disposal to urge Serbia and Kosovo to negotiate the agreement’s implementation in good faith?

Understanding the EU’s success in brokering an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia is significant because it shows the EU’s increasingly important role as a regional conflict manager, and it could pave the way for a broader European enlargement policy toward the Western Balkans.

The goal of this project is to offer both theoretically informed and policy relevant answers to the aforementioned questions from the perspective of the impact of the EU’s security and integration polices on the transformation of border conflict between Serbia and Kosovo. The research also identifies broader implications for the EU’s global security strategy toward fragile and conflict-affected countries.

The analysis of this project will produce CIGI Papers as well as non-CIGI journal articles.