The Reactive Crisis Management of the EU in the Western Balkans

Co-authored with Annemarie Peen Rodt and published in International Intervention in Local Conflicts: Crisis Management and Conflict Resolution since the Cold War (ed. by Uzi Rabi, I.B. Tauris, 2010), this chapter focuses primarily on the European Union’s evolving capabilities in the field of conflict management and offers an assessment of the current state of affairs. Yet, rather than just focusing on this “internal” dimension of EU involvement in the western Balkans, we will also consider the EU’s effectiveness from the point of view of the actual conflicts in which it became involved. We begin with a brief overview of the EU’s early attempts to develop its own mechanisms and policies in this area and then examine in more detail the acceleration of this process in the aftermath of the Kosovo conflict in 1999. Since it has reached a status of being operational, the European Union has carried out five operations in Europe in 2003 and 2004, three of which are still ongoing. Two of these fall under military crisis management operations, and three under the category civilian crisis management. Following a brief assessment of the EU’s performance in managing ethnopolitical conflicts in the Western Balkans to date, we shall conclude by drawing some more general conclusions about the EU’s ability to meet present and future challenges of ethnopolitical conflict management in Europe and beyond.