To conclude Aspen’s policy program on Southeast Europe 2014, high-level representatives of Western Balkan countries came together in Berlin to summarize and discuss the results of the previous conferences, agree on common policies, and present them to a public audience on December 1-2, 2014. After this presentation, Simon Mordue, Director for Enlargement Policy and Strategy of the European Commission’s DG Enlargement, Anja Quiring, Regional Director for Southeast Europe at the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, and Dr. Ernst Reichel, Special Envoy for Southeast Europe, Turkey, and the EFTA States, discussed on the topic „Economic Reform and Strengthening the Rule of Law – a Panacea for a Stalling EU Integration Process?“ It was highlighted that the statement by the President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, that there would be no further enlargement within the next five years, did not mean a deviation from its support for the accession process or an artificial speed limit by the Commission. It should rather be seen as an opportunity for sustainable transformation processes of the countries and for the populations of these countries to actually feel the benefits of these reforms. The German Federal Government fully supports the accession process of the region, since Germany and Europe both not only have a huge interest in the region, but can also have an impact on its future positive development. One priority should be the economic development and the improvement of the investment climate in the countries. The Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations contributes to these processes through its regular exchanges with the countries’ governments on ways of improving the investment climate. The role of Russia in the Western Balkans was seen critical. However, discussants agreed that Russia could not offer any alternative to the European perspective of these countries and that a big impact was not measurable economically or politically. Nonetheless it was stressed that candidate countries are expected to progressively align with EU foreign policy – including sanctions on Russia. Overall, it was expected that the EU will reinforce its emphasis on the Western Balkans as a region, but this will not mean a series of accessions within a short period of time as the reform process remains a lengthy and difficult one.
Click here to download the agenda and the report.
For further information as well as an overview over the results and policy recommendations, please see the final publication
„EU Enlargement: Between Conditionality, Progress, And Enlargement Fatigue?“ (14 MB)