Date on Senior Honors Thesis


Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis

Degree Name



Political Science

Author's Keywords

European integration; European enlargement; Western Balkans; European Union


Since the formation of the European Project, the questions of which direction the EU should take and what objectives it should pursue in the face of considerable ongoing challenges have evolved over time. Today the Western Balkan states – the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania and Bosnia-Hercegovina – pose a set of considerable challenges to the organization, and how the EU addresses the membership of these countries will stand as a critical test of the organization’s competence. As the Union turns its attention to membership consideration for these states, both their complexities and their fragilities have created among EU member states grave doubts regarding the efficacy of membership for all. The critical issues include internal ethnic hostilities, faltering economies, the strain of refugee influx, regional political strains, and Soviet and Chinese economic and political intervention. This thesis assesses both the benefits and costs of enlargement into the Balkan region for both the countries seeking membership and the European Union. This thesis argues that the Union should support enlargement only if it specifically serves the interests of the organization. The Union should promote enlargement when it strengthens measurably deeper integration policies. Successfully adding some or all of the Balkans states would significantly enhance the EU’s international standing, broaden the reach of the organization, and demonstrate the strength and sustainability of the its Common Foreign and Security Policy.

Lay Summary

The European Union is at a critical tipping point as it wrestles with the fallout of a series of blows that have called into question the future of the Union. Faced with the rise of Euroscepticism, the departure of one of its most prominent member states, and a number of security threats, the EU must decide how it is going to move forward. Should it look to deepen its political and economic ties in the region or should it seek to expand membership into neighboring countries? By looking at the history of the European Union, this thesis will study the benefits and challenges of European enlargement and its effects on European integration. Additionally, this thesis will utilize the Western Balkan region as a case study to further analyze the practical implications of expanding the European Union.