Considering the three different approaches that have characterized the evolution of the EU’s enlargement policy, this chapter will show that the ‘duty of solidarity’ that permeated previous enlargements toward Eastern Europe has given way to a strong focus on the principle of ‘fundamentals first’ in the accession process of Western Balkan countries. Consisting mainly in the transfer of justice and home affairs (JHA) acquis and crime control policies aimed at respecting the rule of law principle, the current enlargement process has relegated these countries to a partnership ‘limbo’. In particular, we intend to show that despite strong conditionality in the JHA domains, the previous enlargement processes have ended up affecting the EU’s core values, and in turn, the accession methodologies and strategies toward the Western Balkans, rendering the European ‘perspective’ almost a mirage.
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