Study 24/01/2023

Has Covid-19 Moved Western Balkan Countries Closer to or Further from the EU?

The Covid-19 pandemic hit Western Balkan countries hard and accentuated flaws in the countries’ already fragile democratic systems. Democratic backsliding during the pandemic period has been evident as the governments seized the opportunity to extend their state powers and formed tendencies to bypass the national parliaments.

With 3.3 billion in funding for the economic recovery, the EU has without a doubt been the main supporter of the region during the pandemic period. As the support arrived relatively late and lacked visibility, it enabled a rising amount of anti-EU disinformation. Since the countries focused on mitigating the effects caused by the virus, many of the EU-related reforms, activities, and clusters fell behind.

Since the effects of the pandemic will remain in the Western Balkan societies for a long time, support from the national parliaments, EU institutions, and individual member states such as Finland will be needed to move forward and increase democracy.

This publication is produced by Kalevi Sorsa Foundation with the support of the European Network of Political Foundations (ENoP). Co-funded by the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union and ENoP. 

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