The International Economic Position of Western Balkan Countries in Light of their European Integration Ambitions
Zuzana Kittova, Dusan Steinhauser
EU accession, Global Competitiveness Index, Index of Economic Freedom, export performance
From the EU perspective, the Western Balkans region is considered to be an important sphere of interest with the prospect of stepwise EU accession. This is evidenced by establishing a specific accession process for these countries, including an option of granting the status of potential candidate. The progress, particularly concerning the economic preparedness and competitiveness of the Western Balkan countries, is uneven. This paper compares the readiness of particular Western Balkan countries for EU membership on the basis of accession progress assessment, as well as on the basis of international economic position assessment. Taking into account official progress reports published by the European Commission providing a comprehensive assessment of the EU membership criteria, we broaden the perspective of the economic progress assessment by employing the assessment of the international economic positions of the Western Balkan countries based on multifactor indicators. For this purpose, we developed our own composite index of international involvement. We then compared the assessment based on our own index with assessments based on both the Global Competitiveness Index and the Index of Economic Freedom. Based on our findings, the best international economic positions among the Western Balkan countries belong to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Montenegro. Therefore, it may be concluded that accession progress is accompanied by an adequate fit of these economies represented by their international economic position. Contrary to that, Serbia belongs among the worst assessed Western Balkan countries despite its advanced accession progress.
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Kittova, Z. Steinhauser, D. (2018). The International Economic Position of Western Balkan Countries in Light of their European Integration Ambitions. Journal of Competitiveness, 10(3), 51-68. https://doi.org/10.7441/joc.2018.03.04