- January 27, 2022
On January 27, 2022, the Aspen Institute Germany hosted an online discussion on the topic “EU Enlargement Process of the Western Balkans – How to Improve the Dynamics?” with Laura Ahrens, Head of Division E12, European Department General, German Federal Foreign Office, Leonor Guy, Desk Officer – EU Enlargement, EU-Western Balkans, EU-Turkey, French Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and Milena Lazarević, Programme Director, European Policy Centre (CEP) and Member, Think for Europe Network (TEN). The discussion was moderated by Dr. Stormy-Annika Mildner, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Germany.
When the revised enlargement methodology was adopted in 2020, there was hope it could break the enlargement impasse. Yet, it seems that not much has changed ever since, particularly as reform processes in the fields of the rule of law and democratization have progressed slowly or stalled in many of the Western Balkan countries, while a single member state continues to obstruct the accession process of those who have made progress. This significantly weakens the EU’s transformative power despite the revised enlargement methodology proposed by the French government.
The conversation therefore focused on how the dynamics of EU enlargement could be restored and how greater political commitment within the EU and in the region could be ensured when it comes to re-energizing the enlargement process. In addition, the “model of staged accession” has been discussed as a possible solution.
The virtual discussion was part of the Aspen Berlin Policy Hub for think tanks from the Western Balkans, a project funded by the Open Society Foundations and the Federal Press Agency.
For further information, the policy brief by the Think for Europe Network can be found here:
Think for Europe Network: „The Model of Staged Accession to the European Union – Addressing the Four Key Concerns“ (January 2022)