What the EU Enlargement Strategy should include and why

In recent weeks, the EU integration of the Western Balkan six (WB6) countries seems to have picked up pace. Stabilisation and Association Agreements (SAA) have now entered into force for all WB countries. While Montenegro and Serbia continue their accession negotiations, Albania awaits the opening of its first negotiating chapters conditioned by a convincing track record in the implementation of judicial reform, while Macedonia must first implement the Urgent Reform Priorities and the Pržino Agreement. The recent change in government in Macedonia and Montenegro’s long-awaited admission to...

Macedonia's EU accession: what would a restart entail?

In his last State of the Union address, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reminded us of the obvious: that there would be no enlargement during the mandate of this Commission. He also underlined that the credible enlargement perspective for the Western Balkans must be maintained if the EU wants more stability in its neighborhood. On the following day, Commissioner Hahn in Belgrade launched a strategic partnership between the Commission and Serbia, a candidate country. At both of these occasions, a new strategy for enlargement for the Western Balkans was...

What’s another year? The European Union and the Western Balkans 2017

Johnny Logan from Ireland won the Eurovision Song Contest 1980 with the song “What`s another year?”. Also in April 1980, the European Community and Yugoslavia signed their first comprehensive Cooperation Agreement. The Commission news release noted that “the primary objective of the Agreement is to improve the balance in the EC-Yugoslav trade which produced an adverse balance to for the latter country of $3.5 billion in 1979.” 37 years on, many more agreements were signed with the Western Balkans, yet balanced economic relations remain illusory. From 2006 to 2016 the six Western Balkans...

Melancholic, Unequal and Devoid of Common Sense

In the course of just several days, two women were murdered in the Centres for Social Work in Belgrade. As usual, almost everyone had an opinion on who bore the brunt of guilt and why, and what was the real cause of the death that occurred in broad daylight in the Serbian capital.

Rumours ran aplenty: some said that one man was a returnee from war; it was then speculated that there were certain ties with local political strongmen; or, some said that the family was poor and thus poverty became a justified reason for the ‘micro-violence’ within our four walls; yet others...

The future of the Kosovo Security Force: a challenge for the new government

On May 10th, the government of Prime Minister Isa Mustafa was dismissed, following a no-confidence vote by the majority of the Kosovo Assembly. Today, more than a month after the snap electionsof June 11th, Kosovo remains without a government, as none of the candidates won the necessary majority to form a government. Yet, while no one can say with certainty what the composition of Kosovo’s new government will be, it is clear that the new Prime Minister and his cabinet will immediately have to dive into very deep waters. The standstill in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, the pending...

The Western Balkans - A Role for Industrial Policy

Some scholars underline the need to foster industrial development in the Western Balkans. They also highlight the difficulties of such a strategy because of the lack of protectionism – which leads to a rather pessimistic assessment of economic prospects in the region.

In this short note, I recall the importance of manufacturing industries for growth and the renewal of interests for industrial policies. I also indicate that there is room left for active industrial policies in the context of liberalizing economies – what matters is not so much the label ‘industrial...

The Western Balkans Summit in Trieste and Bilateral Disputes

This year’s Western Balkans Summit in Trieste will be the fourth consecutive meeting of the heads of governments and Foreign Ministers of the six countries, aiming to build on the achievements of the previous meetings and take their commitments a step further. The Summits are organised under the framework of the ‘Berlin Process’, a five-year initiative inaugurated by Chancellor Merkel in 2014 to reinforce the commitment to EU-enlargement for the Western Balkan countries (WB6) by revitalising the bilateral and multilateral ties between them and participating EU member states. For the...

End Roaming Charges in EU Candidate Countries: Bring People Closer

As of yesterday, 15 June 2017, roaming charges in the European Union no longer apply. The President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani, the Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat (on behalf of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union), and the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker issued a triumphant joint statement, saying that the European Union is about bringing people together and making their lives easier

The theme of bringing people...

‘Berlin Plus’ will not change the game

On 31 May 2017 the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sigmar Gabriel, announced a “Berlin plus” agenda at a conference of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Western Balkans organised by the Aspen Institute in Berlin. The conference took place against the background of a number of political developments in the Western Balkan countries which seem to threaten the carefully crafted stability paradigm in the region. Political conflict was rife both inside and outside the political institutions. Following a visit to the region by the US Under-Secretary of State Brian Hoyt Yee and the...

What is a stabilitocracy?

In our latest BiEPAG policy brief, we use the term stabilitocracy to describe the semi-authoritarian regimes in the Western Balkans. We draw this term from Srdja Pavlović, who introduced this term in an LSE Blog on Montenegro in late 2016 to describe a regime where undemocratic practices persist and the "West has... turned a blind eye to this while simultaneously preaching the virtues of democracy and the rule of law."...

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