Regional economic cooperation in the Western Balkans has been one of the key pillars of engagement, proposed and strongly supported by the European Union. It has been nominally embraced by Western Balkan leaders, who have further advanced bilateral and multilateral cooperation schemes. The rush towards greater regional cooperation – and ultimately integration – has ignored the security threats associated with open borders and the free flow of goods and people. It is thus important to consider the nature of those threats, as organized criminal groups from the region are becoming increasingly powerful. The following policy brief is essentially a case study to examine the nature of potential threats that could arise from greater economic cooperation, and the law enforcement cooperation needed to counter it. It discusses these dynamics by examining the nature of cooperation between Kosovo and Albania. The two countries have been cooperating closely on a number of policy areas, particularly on facilitating the free movement of goods and people. Therefore, their experiences – including both successes and failures – could provide us with a better understanding of the achievements and the key gaps that need to be addressed to enable economic growth without compromising national security in the Western Balkans.
Opinions expressed in the publication are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the Netherlands Embassy in Belgrade, the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, or its partners.