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Policy Dialogue
Towards a new strategy for the Balkans: Another paper exercise?

Friday, 10 January 2020


Simonida Kacarska, Director and Co-founder, European Policy Institute, North Macedonia

Milena Lazarević, Co-founder, CEP Belgrade, Serbia
Dušan Reljić, Head of Brussels Office, German Institute for International and Security affairs (SWP)

Ardian Hackaj, Research Director, Cooperation and Development Institute, Albania

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

EU enlargement policy is at a crossroads. At the European Council Summit in October, the member states, once again, failed to reach a decision on opening accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, with some calling for the entire process to be reworked. It seems that, unless there is a change of political will, the EU’s approach to the Western Balkans must reform or remain blocked.

But is fundamental change in the process really necessary? Some member states seem to think so and one has already produced an outline of what a new strategy could look like. The European Commission, too, will publish a paper in February about the future of EU enlargement. At the same time, there is a risk that a reformed enlargement policy may merely be more paper pushing, while the real needs of the region - economic development, support for political and judicial reforms and a credible European future perspective - go unaddressed.

What should the new policy look like in order to go beyond cosmetic changes and offer a meaningful new start for the region? Which aspects of the existing approach are working well and which need to be replaced? Which EU funds or programmes could be opened up to the Balkans and under which political conditions? This Policy Dialogue will discuss these and other issues. Aleksandra Tomanić, Executive Director of the European Fund for the Balkans and Matteo Bonomi, Research Fellow at the Institute of International Affairs will make opening remarks.

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