The EU’s policy towards the countries of the western Balkans takes the form of the stabilisation and association process (SAP) launched in 2000. The SAP seeks to stabilise the region and establish a free-trade area with a view to the countries concerned becoming EU members in the future.
Particular emphasis is placed on regional cooperation, e.g. the development of infrastructures and networks and the establishment of a free trade area. Although the SAP sets out common political and economic goals, each country’s progress is judged on its own merits.
By means of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (2014-20), funding is provided to strengthen democracy and the rule of law, to develop market economies and as to align SAP countries’ laws with those of the EU.
Western Balkan countries that acquire candidate country status continue to benefit from the SAP while involved in the accession process.
SAP countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo (*), Montenegro and Serbia.
* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.
Source: EUR Lex Glossary