The Accession of the Western Balkans in the European Unioun

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In February 2018 a new enlargement strategy was presented by the European Commission. This renewed interest in the Western Balkan by the European Commission formed the motivation of this study, which is dedicated to establishing the narrative of the Juncker Commission on EU enlargement to the Western Balkan. This study argues that narratives can provide new insights into the study of EU studies and constructivism, because narratives focus on how discourses are structured around a central plot. This argumentation in favour of narratives is tested through a single case study aimed at determining the dominant narratives employed by the European Commission. After introducing narratives into constructivism, two meta-narratives are derived from empirical research, a normative and a pragmatic meta-narrative. Based on these two metanarratives, the method of content analysis was employed to find the three narrative elements in a selection of official documents, speeches and statements made by Johannes Hahn, Jean-Claud Juncker and Federica Mogherini. After reconstructing the narrative of the Commission, this thesis shows that a normative narrative is dominant in the enlargement discourse of the Commission, although reforms are narrated based on a pragmatic narrative. Secondly, it can be concluded that the narrative of the new enlargement strategy follows the normative narrative but includes geopolitical narrative features. The EU, the Western Balkan countries and the reforms are all narrated based on a normative narrative, but the motivation for enlargement is narrated from a geopolitical narrative.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen