“Politics of Enlargement” 1st meeting led by ELIAMEP

The first online meeting of the "Politics of Enlargement" thematic group led by ELIAMEP took place on 28 June 2023. Over 30 influential experts from the Western Balkans and the EU exchanged views on the current challenges and the next steps on the path of the region's EU accession.

The first round of our discussion was devoted to the new momentum for EU enlargement in the light of the Russian aggressive war and the EU candidate status granted to Ukraine and Moldova. We aimed to analyse the current situation, the role of internal and external actors, the challenges of the reform process and the ways in which the current dynamics could be beneficial for the Western Balkans in terms of their European perspective. Of particular relevance to the debate was the issue of national leaderships and the priorities they set, as well as the question of ownership of the reforms and the accession process.

The second round of the discussion focused on the next steps: how the EU can revitalize the process (through financial or other incentives), and the methodology followed (posing the question of changing it, or maintaining it with a new approach). At the same time, there was an extensive discussion on the need to present “success-stories”; in other words, focus on countries that are further ahead in the accession process, whereas the issue of accountability of the Western Balkan leaders and the possible role that civil society actors can play in this regard was of particular interest.

Further consultations will take place in July and September, whereas a public event will be held on 13 September.  The insights gained from the consultation meetings shall contribute to the paper that will provide policy recommendations for the forthcoming summit of the Berlin Process in Tirana. Prof. Ioannis Armakolas, Dr. Ana Krstinovska and the team of the Southeast Europe Programme of ELIAMEP are responsible for the successful preparation and implementation of the TWG.

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