Legal language and EU integration: The case of Western Balkans

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This paper investigates whether the Western Balkans, in particular four case study countries of the former Yugoslavia (Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herze-govina, and Montenegro) can be seen as a particular region in terms of legal language and legal culture. By examining legal language and legal translation within the EU accession process, this paper argues that nation state formation and ethnic conflict had little impact on the legal language and culture which remained very similar in these four countries after the break-up of Yugoslavia. Furthermore, through analysis based on neo-functionalist theory of EU inte-gration, this paper explains how legal translation, though not a part of a delib-erate EU enlargement strategy, becomes a vehicle of further EU integration as a result of political spill-over. It is particularly relevant in the case of the West-ern Balkans whereby both the European Commission and the sub-national bureaucracies make a full use of a common legal language and culture to their advantage to facilitate the accession process through the lens of legal transla-tion. The paper concludes that the four countries of the Western Balkans can be viewed as a particular and unique region resulting from a shared legal lan-guage and culture which may have potential implications for the EU’s policy of multilingualism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-96
JournalInternational Journal of Language & Law
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2018


  • Western Balkans
  • EU integration
  • legal language and culture
  • neo-functionalism
  • legal translation
  • European Commission
  • sub-national technocrats


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