The Balkans are a key area for stability in Europe. All the current candidate countries to the European Union are located there. But the region is largely composed of weak and not fully democratic States. The economy is not performing well, unemployment is high, corruption and organized crime play a significant part, while inter-ethnic tensions are still an unresolved issue. The EU has often found it hard to understand this part of Europe, and its strategy has rarely been consistent enough. An in-depth approach to the institutions or laws is required. Pluralism and countervailing powers should be promoted, active citizenship encouraged, as well as a vision of history closer to European values than to nationalism. No significant change will occur without identifying the right combination of levers.