EU Integrations

‘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...

Beyond civil society: prospects and limits for civil society’s role in EU integration in the Balkans

The relationship between the state and civil society organisations (CSO) is never easy. Even more so in the difficult but presumably transformative process that deprives some elites of power - including state and political actors - and empowers citizens and institutions. The EU integration process is ideally just such a process, and the countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey are ‘marathon runners’ - applicants for EU membership. The EU progress reports do not miss the opportunity to emphasize the role of civil society, among many other criteria, in securing democracy...

The untold story behind Bosnia’s EU membership application

More than seven years ago, Bosnia’s neighbors, Montenegro and Serbia, applied for EU membership. Since then, Bosnian politicians have openly considered doing the same on several occasions: first in 2009, and then again in 2010 and 2012. But they never went through with it – until 15 February 2016, when Bosnia finally submitted its...

Business as EUsual with difficult stYUdents

Only in the 1990s has the European future of what is now known as the Western Balkans been bleaker than nowadays. After the ‘democratizing turn’ in 2000, the year marked by regime changes and political commitments to democracy, open society, free market economy, and European Union (EU) integration, the people living in this southeastern corner of Europe believed that a brighter future was ahead of them. The EU policy-makers dealing with enlargement still had their hands full attempting to prevent inter-ethnic conflicts, mediate...

Kosovo’s SAA: sign of change in relations with EU non-recognizers?

Disagreements over Kosovo used to be among the most flagrant examples of how difficult it is to operate a common EU foreign policy.  Consequently, does Kosovo signing the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU on 27 October in Strasbourg signal some shift in the respective positions of the five EU members that do not recognize this country's independence? Or does it merely illustrate the fact that Brussels has found a way to go around them?

This blog post looks at the case of Slovakia which, along with Greece, has been the most flexible of...

Kosovo - The Need for an Effective Competition Policy

The implementation of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between Kosovo and the European Union is expected to start in 2016. SAA Article 75 is about Competition and other Economic Provisions. Considering article 75, within a few years, Kosovo is expected to implement effectively competition policy, in line with the EU Acquis and experience.

The effectiveness of competition policy is first of all defined by the actual outcomes of investigation...

The Challenges of Transition in Kosovo

Fifteen years after separating from Serbia and despite considerable foreign aid, Kosovo is still confronted with serious economic, social and institutional challenges; they include inter alia trade deficits, fiscal problems, the quality of governance, unemployment and poverty. Findings underline the complexity of the liberal and democratic transition, for which much time is required to overcome the legacies of the past and build a new, more unified and richer country.

       Kosovo in perspective

Kosovo is a very small country – it has a...

How to make EU mediation work in Macedonia

Since Macedonian Prime Minister Gruevski accused the opposition of plotting the overthrow of the government and espionage and opposition leader Zoran Zaev began regularly releasing “bombs” of wiretapped calls that suggest corruption, abuse of office, electoral fraud and a range of other crimes by the prime minister and his associates, tensions in Macedonia have been increasing steadily.  

Now, the EU has become engaged with a low-level mediation by MEPs between government and opposition, meeting in Brussels on...

Bosnia-Herzegovina after EU association. Four challenges ahead

On March 16, 2015 the foreign ministers of the 28 EU member states gave the green light for the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) between Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and the European Union (EU) to enter into force. The SAA is a treaty with a complex story. Back in 2005 its signature quickly became burdened by OHR-mandated conditionality on police reform, which the EU finally put aside after accepting cosmetic changes in 2008. However, after a three year ratification process, the agreement had to be frozen before it could enter into force because in 2009 Bosnia was found in...

The end of conditionality in Bosnia-Herzegovina?

At their monthly meeting in Brussels on March 16, the European Union’s foreign ministers are expected to decide that a pre-accession agreement with Bosnia-Herzegovina should take effect. With the stroke of a pen, the foreign ministers will discard the notion that EU conditionality might be used to propel constitutional reform in Bosnia, reversing a policy that has been in force for many years.

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