“Double Fatigue” to EU Enlargement? The Challenges and Prospect of the Western Balkans’ EU Accession

The EU enlargement process over the past years has witnessed an odd mix of challenges. On the one side there are the ‘domestic fatigues’ of the remaining countries of the Western Balkans to catch up with European integration and on the other side, there is the ‘EU fatigue’ to deliver tailor-made approach to the specific needs of these countries. The ‘double fatigue’ is nowadays a reality, yet one which is rarely discussed comprehensively. The forum aims to assess simultaneously not only the challenges that Western Balkans are facing towards EU membership but also the EU enlargement policy and strategy towards the region. The year 2018 was an important year for the European future of the Western Balkans. The European Commission in its enlargement strategy identified a series of steps to lead Montenegro and Serbia towards EU membership by 2025, it also recommended that Albania and Macedonia initiate accession negotiations, furthermore, a special summit dedicated to the Western Balkans was held in Sofia on May. Moreover, Austria’s EU presidency in the second half of the year, Great Britain’s exit from the EU and the European elections to be held in 2019 may also have an effect on the European perspective of the remaining countries of the Western Balkans. The forum brings together a number of European and national high-level officials, experts and civil society members to reflect on the challenges and propose way-outs to overcome the ‘double fatigue’ of EU enlargement further to South-East of Europe.

Opening Speeches

Moderator: Dorian Jano, Director, EU Policy Hub, Tirana

Speakers:

Wulf Lapins, Head of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Tirana

Artemisa Dralo (Malo), Deputy Minister, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs of Albania

Johann Sattler, Ambassador of Austria in Albania (EU Presidency)

Panel 1: EU Enlargement Process towards the Western Balkans: Its Achievement, the likely Pitfalls, and the Prospect Ahead

The panel addresses the latest political developments in the EU, focusing on the opportunities and threats to revive the EU enlargement process for the remaining Western Balkans. It will also scrutinize the current EU’s approach towards the Western Balkans, identifying the main developments, evaluating the current initiatives, and proposing efficient policy tools to move the region towards EU accession.

Moderator: Mariola Qesaraku, Program Coordinator, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Tirana

Speakers:

Muammer Kazanci, Advisor at the German Bundestag, Hamburg

Srdjan Cvijić, Senior Policy Analyst, Open Society European Policy Institute, Brussels

Marko Kmezić, Senior Researcher, Centre for Southeast European Studies, Graz

Ioannis Armakolas, Head of the South-East Europe Programme, Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, Athens

Panel 2: Assessing Western Balkans’ progress towards EU accession: Achievements and Challenges Ahead

The progress towards meeting the European standards and the stages of the contractual relations in the accession process differs among the Western Balkan countries. So where do the countries of the Western Balkans stands today in the European Integration process? What is the level of compliance with the European standards and how long it will take for them to overcome the different challenges of the EU accession negotiations? What are the main causes that influence the European integration process and how we can draw lessons to improve the process? These are the questions that were addressed in this panel.

Moderator: Klodjan Seferaj, Program Manager, Open Society Foundation for Albania, Tirana

Speakers:

Geron Kamberi, Associate Researcher, European Movement Albania, Tirana

Venera Hajrullahu, Director, Kosovar Civil Society Foundation, Pristina

Zoran Nechev, Senior Researcher, Institute for Democracy ‘Societas Civilis’, Skopje

Srđan Majstorović, Chairman of the Governing Board, European Policy Centre, Belgrade

Concluding remarks

Luigi Soreca, Head of EU Delegation in Albania