One of the challenges for policy organizations from the Western Balkans is a disconnect to the European Union. All too often, pro-European voices interacting with their EU counterparts struggle to step beyond local paradigms. This deepens the perception in the EU that the Western Balkans is a problematic neighbor who, in the future, might become a free-rider on EU financial assistance without contributing to solutions for wider European problems. Genuine Europeanization cannot take hold if the EU and the region are not speaking constructively about common goals. In order to bridge this gap, Aspen’s Berlin Policy Hub seeks to establish closer, targeted, and more regular contact between Western Balkan think tanks and their EU member states’ counterparts. Supported by the Open Society Foundations and the German Federal Press Agency, the Aspen Institute Germany functions as a policy hub in Berlin for select policy research organizations from the Western Balkans. Aspen Germany supports these organizations in identifying potential local partners in Berlin, facilitates advocacy visits, and assists with their preparation and optimization. The idea is to help Western Balkan policy organizations better understand the Berlin policy scene, identify opportunities for collaboration with local organizations, and improve effectiveness of their political outreach and advocacy. By forging stronger contacts between players in Western Europe, organizations from the Western Balkans can more effectively take part in debates affecting their region. Throughout its first two years of operation, Aspen’s Berlin Policy Hub organized and facilitated a total of 19 visits, hosting more than twenty think tanks from all of the Western Balkans Six countries, connecting them with leading policy-makers at the Federal Chancellery, the Foreign Office, other Federal Ministries, the German Bundestag, Berlin-based think tanks and research organizations, as well as individual experts and renowned journalists.
An overview of the Policy Briefs that have been prepared by some of the participating organizations in the framework of this project can be found here. The responsibility for the content of these documents lies solely with their authors, they do not necessarily reflect the official position or opinion of Aspen Institute Germany.
Think for Europe Network: „The Model of Staged Accession to the European Union – Addressing the Four Key Concerns“ (January 2022)
Institute for Democracy “Societas Civilis” – Skopje: „North Macedonia: Progress in a Void “ (June 2021)
Centre for Contemporary Politics: „Serbian Media: Threat to Democracy, Opportunity for Anti-EU Narratives“ (April 2021)
Foreign Policy Initiative BH: „Road Ahead for Bosnia and Herzegovina: New Opportunities or the Preservation of the Status Quo?“ (April 2021)
Centre for Monitoring and Research – CeMI: „The First 100 Days of the New Montenegrin Government“ (March 2021)
Think for Europe Network: “Breaking the Impasse: Exploiting New Opportunities to Strengthen EU-Western Balkans Relations” (December 2020)
Center for Democratic Transition: “Potentially Critical Points in the Functioning of the New Government in Montenegro” (November 2020)
Balkans Policy Research Group: “Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue: Path to the Agreement” (September 2020)
European Policy Institute: “EU-North Macedonia Accession Negotiations: the Implications of the Bulgarian Conditions” (June 2020)
Centre for Monitoring and Research: “Montenegro: A Captured State or a Leading Candidate for EU Accession?” (April 2019)
Think for Europe Network: “Effective Benchmarking for Concrete Rule of Law Reforms in the Western Balkans” (October 2019)