Online Policy Dialogue

The 2021 Enlargement Package : restoring the EU’s transformative leverage in the Balkans

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8 novembre 2021

The European Policy Centre, in cooperation with the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG), is delighted to invite you to this online Policy Dialogue :

Maciej Popowski
Director-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations
European Commission

Florian Bieber
Professor of Southeast European History and Politics, University of Graz

Natasha Wunsch
Assistant Professor, Sciences Po
Senior Researcher, ETH Zurich, Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group

Corina Stratulat
Senior Policy Analyst, European Policy Centre (Moderator)

Other speakers to be confirmed

Click here to register

Last month, the European Commission published its 2021 enlargement package, including a new Communication on enlargement and detailed assessments of the extent to which the Balkan countries have made progress on EU reforms. The package has a strong focus on good governance criteria and notes deficiencies in the areas of the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, media freedom, and the fight against organised crime and corruption throughout the region, including amongst the front-runners Montenegro and Serbia. At the same time, the Commission acknowledges the efforts that Albania and North Macedonia have undertaken to fulfil the conditions for opening membership talks with the EU and recommends - once again - that the member states adopt without further delay the negotiating frameworks for these two countries. Other sore points highlighted in the reports are the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the stalled process of normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina.

Will Bulgaria change its position during the Slovenian Presidency ? What is at stake if the EU fails to deliver on its promise to Albania and North Macedonia ? How can the Union help the Balkan countries still more to meet and sustain democratic standards ? How does it support socio-economic development in these countries ? Is the existing toolkit of the Commission sufficient to deal with the complex and sensitive issues of state-building and statehood in the region ? How can the EU revive the transformative leverage of its enlargement policy ?

Our panel will discuss these and other issues, drawing also on a recent Policy Brief published by the BiEPAG – “Escaping the transactional trap : the way forward for EU enlargement”, written by Natascha Wunch, Corina Stratulat, Srdjan Cvijic, Zoran Nechev, Marko Kmezic, Gjergji Vurmo and Matteo Bonomi. The brief is based on an public opinion poll carried out in in WB6.