The EU's Crisis Management in the Kosovo-Serbia crises

Jozef Bátora, Kari Osland, Mateja Peter

The purpose of this paper is to map the development of the EU’s crisis management throughout the various stages of the Kosovo-Serbia crisis. The key argument proposed here is that the EU’s crisis management structures and processes have co-evolved with the Kosovo crisis between 1991 and 2017. Throughout its various stages, the crisis has been a source of learning and adaptation, providing key stimuli in the development of the EU’s crisis management structures.

The analytical approach in the paper builds on the overall approach of EUNPACK, i.e. it combines an institutional approach analysing the EU's institutional infrastructure in relation to the region with a bottom-up approach analysing local dynamics in Kosovo. The analysis operates on these two levels and focuses on four stages in the Kosovo-Serbia crisis, namely i) pre-conflict stage (1991-1997); ii) conflict stage (determined by actual outbreak of armed violence and ethnic cleansing operations, i.e. 1998-99); iii) post-conflict stage 1: 1999-2008 (pre-EULEX); and iv) post-conflict stage 2: 2008-2017 (with EULEX on the ground).

In addition to mapping practices of the EU’s crisis management, an overall aim of this paper is to produce with useful explanations of how the mechanisms in crisis management stabilised both on the level of local arrangements (e.g. the Mitrovica bridge regime) and on the level of EU-based instruments, such as the EEAS-based dialogue format on ‘normalisation’ of relations or EU aid funding for various programmes. We also study to what extent the current arrangements on the ground are stable in light of growing recent efforts at destabilisation in Kosovo as well as throughout the Western Balkans region.