Western Balkans

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...

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."...

Extending the EU Semester Formula to the Balkans: Will it improve economic governance?

In 2013, the European Commission added economic governance to the fundamentals of the European Union’s (EU) enlargement strategy. The new approach to economic governance was implemented for the first time in 2015 and became fully operational in early 2016. This is a welcome development, but will the new...

Addressing Youth Unemployment in the Balkans

Balkan countries are confronted with high rates of youth unemployment. Such a situation may severely impact on political stability in the region and can cause tensions between communities; in addition, it stimulates illicit activities in the grey economy. Policies are also implemented to support the creation of new jobs; however, so far, outcomes are rather limited.

HIGH LEVELS OF YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT

With the exception of Kosovo, the World Bank data base on youth unemployment (ages 15-24) provides interesting information on Balkan countries, which allows inter-country...

Losing the Western Balkans in Paris

The consequences of the United Kingdom’s imminent exit from the EU following the June 23rd referendum will be felt across the continent but perhaps nowhere more so than the Western Balkans. But the drama of “Brexit,” and with it the resurgence of grand geopolitics in the Balkans, obscures the more quietly devastating headline of the past year. It has been yet another year in southeastern Europe marked by...

The parallel universe: bilateral issues and the future of the Western Balkans

The future of the Western Balkans (WB6) remains uncertain. The region is plagued by a number of persisting challenges, most notably bilateral issues which require resolution. These largely fall within the political sphere, and are primarily related to the history of the region and its recent wars. Existing disputes between the Western Balkan countries encompass a vast range of issues, from unresolved border or territorial disputes between the former Yugoslav republics to economic and property issues, identity, protection and representation of national minorities, and the status of refugees...

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