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Border obstacles to the integration of the Western Balkans

December 2021

Border obstacles are one of the stumbling blocks of European integration. Border obstacles are specific closure effects deriving from the political, geographical and natural, economic or/and socio-cultural dimension of a border between two neighbouring countries. They may concern the entire length or a smaller segment of a border. In most cases border obstacles have negative impacts on local and regional development in the border regions. In some cases the negative effects can even be of national or European-wide nature.

A recent study to DG REGIO on cross-border obstacles between enlargement countries and EU member states reveals some interesting information on Western Balkan integration. The study analysed 222 obstacles for cross-border cooperation between enlargement countries and EU member states in South-East Europe, most of which matter for the Western Balkans (see map). In the following, we concentrate on the border obstacles in the Western Balkans. There, most of them relate to a specific bilateral border or parts thereof.

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