Western Balkans

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...

Regional Initiatives in the Balkans and the Economic Development

Since the termination of hostilities in the Balkans, as illustrated by the 1999 Stability Pact, CEFTA 2006 and the SEE 2020 Strategy, there were initiatives to foster new relations between former belligerents, for the sake of peace, reconstruction and recovery.

In this short note, we report key-features and economic outcomes of these initiatives, underlining their importance for the development of the countries in the region and their journey toward the EU.

We also report concerns about the actual economic and social prospects in the region, which could...

How the Dutch Referendum Killed EU enlargement

On Wednesday, around 2.5 mio. Dutch voters rejected the EU-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (61.59% yes, turnout 32.2%). In effect, a small minority of less than 0.5% has become a veto player for an agreement affecting more than half a billion people.

                                                   Photo credit (©) AP...

Asylum seekers in the EU: the road to nowhere

Last weekend two events at the Western Balkans migratory route deepened the acute humanitarian crisis. On Saturday, 28 November Macedonia started building a fence on the border with Greece, causing the outbreak of clashes between border police and  asylum seekers,  resulting, again, in the use of paper spray and rubber bullets.  On Sunday, 29 November, the EU sealed the deal with Turkey on curbing the refugee flows towards Europe. Both events signalize...

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