The new strategy for the Western Balkans adopted by the Commission in February 2018 sets out new flagship initiatives and support for the region. In order to meet the EU membership criteria and in their own interest, the Western Balkans need to implement comprehensive reforms in crucial areas. The rule of law, fundamental rights and governance must be strengthened significantly. Judicial reforms, the fight against corruption and organised crime, and public administration reform need to deliver real results and the functioning of democratic institutions need to be seriously enhanced. Economic reforms must be pursued with vigour so that structural weaknesses, low competitiveness and high unemployment rates are addressed.
All countries must unequivocally commit, in both word and deed, to overcome the legacy of the past, by achieving reconciliation and solving open issues, in particular border disputes, well before accession to the European Union. There needs to be a comprehensive, legally-binding normalisation agreement between Serbia and Kosovo so that they can advance on their respective European paths.