The Western Balkans and the EU four years after the launch of the Berlin Process: perspectives in sight, accession in reach? | CDI

23 April 2018

On 19th of April in Berlin, the Director of Research of Cooperation and Development Institute, Mr. Ardian Hackaj, participated in the round-table “The Western Balkans and the EU four years after the launch of the Berlin Process: perspectives in sight, accession in reach?”. The event aimed at analyzing and debating on the opportunities offered by the Berlin Process, the expectations for the London Summit in July 2018, as well as the conclusions drawn by the Enlargement Strategy 2018 and the latest recommendations of the Commission. The round-table discussed the contribution of Berlin Process in maintaining the momentum for EU enlargement process and its added value to bring the Connectivity Agenda on the spotlight of the integration process, as illustrated by CDI recent study on Berlin Process 2014-2018.

Berlin Process has awaken the connectivity agenda. It is also a driver of regional cooperation. For the next years, REA remains a major enterprise for WB6 countries. In this light, no other actor in the Balkans is offering anything comparable to what EU does.

The new “front-loading” approach of the Commission – opening the negotiations contingent to implementation of reforms – has produced the first positive results. Albania has shown “overall progress” and / or “some level of preparation in rule of law” and is “moderately prepared” for the two other criteria.  Macedonia has taken concrete steps to implement recommendations of the Priebe report.

Among the main conclusions of the round table regarding democracy and citizen engagement, we would like to point out the need to bring the democracy at grassroots to the close vicinity of the citizen. Democracy needs to be exercised and monitored every day and at every level, and not only during elections. Western donors have been talking too long to the elites. Now Balkan grass-root and citizen movements are emerging independent of Western donors.

Regarding the EU financial aid to WB6, it was suggested to focus on governance, be more intrusive, as well as more impact oriented (completed with impact-monitoring measures). The aid should be focused on connectivity and social infrastructure (basic education, primary health, social services) and less on technical assistance.

This event took place under Chatham House Rules at the Austrian Embassy in Berlin, and was organized by Austro-French Centre for Rapprochement in Europe, Centre international de formation européenne (CIFE) and German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP).