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The Western Balkans and the EU: Reassessing the relationship

19. 09. 2019.

The European future of the Western Balkans (WB) is increasingly uncertain. While the countries of the WB have been promised a European perspective, conditions for becoming part of the EU have become much stricter compared to previous enlargement rounds. At the same time, the EU’s appetite for accepting new members has decreased due to numerous internal factors. As a result, the EU’s enlargement policy seems to be stuck in limbo. What are the potential benefits of the EU’s expansion to this region? What kinds of options are possible for making the accession process more effective? What is the role of the enlargement in the context of wider debates on the future of Europe?

In cooperation with the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, on 19 September 2019 we organised a seminar The Western Balkans and the EU: Reassessing the relationship in Helsinki, Finland. The seminar reflected on the current state of play with regard to the advancement of the Western Balkans in the EU accession process, brought forward potential benefits of the EU’s expansion to this region, discussed the possible options for making the accession process more effective, and put it into the context of wider debates on the future of Europe. These topics were discussed by:

– Ms Kaisa Penny, Director, Kalevi Sorsa Foundation from Finland

– Ms Milena Lazarević, Programme Director, European Policy Centre from Belgrade, Serbia

– Mr. Sotiraq Hroni, Executive Director, Institute for Democracy and Mediation from Tirana, Albania

– Mr. Keijo Karjalainen, Deputy director, unit for South-Eastern Europe, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

Moderator was Ms Emma Hakala, Senior Research Fellow, FIIA

Video recording of the panel discussion can be found here.