On October 19, the European Commission adopted its 2021 Enlargement Package, offering a comprehensive assessment of the state of play and the progress made by the Western Balkans on their individual paths towards the European Union, with a focus on implementing fundamental reforms, as well as clear guidance on the reform priorities ahead. With the introduction of the new methodology which uses a merit-based approach, the focus of this Package is addressing fundamentals – rule of law, independence of the judiciary, media freedom, and the fight against organised crime and corruption – all while making sure that the EU itself delivers on its commitments.
The Commission acknowledged the region’s frontrunners, Montenegro, and Serbia, by noting that they have made some progress in this area while acknowledging efforts of North Macedonia and Albania have made to fulfil conditions for opening negotiations. Apart from the ongoing Bulgarian veto, the stalled process of normalisation of relations in the region is the other sore point highlighted in the reports.
This draws the following questions: How does the 2021 Enlargement Package support the building of a stronger Europe? What are the incentives offered to the Western Balkans through this Package? Does the current toolkit possess enough tools to deal with regional’s sensitive, yet complex issues while addressing the Fundamentals?
As this issue remains highly relevant everyday life of citizens, all while being very detailed and complex, the aim of the event is to gather relevant experts who could untangle what has been done so far in these areas and what remains to be done to make sure that the 2021 Enlargement Package is implemented effectively and efficiently. To get multi-layered answers to the problem, the panellists from think tanks from the countries of Western Balkan will give their inputs at this event organised jointly by the Think for Europe Network (TEN) and the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR).
The 2021 Enlargement Package will be presented by Maciej Popowski, Acting Director-General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, followed by 5-minute reactions from:
– Srđan Majstorović, Chairman of Governing Board, European Policy Centre (CEP), Belgrade
– Haris Ćutahija, Researcher, Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI BH), Sarajevo
– Marko Sošić, Policy Analyst, Institute Alternative (IA), Podgorica
– Arbëresha Loxha Stublla, Executive Director and Senior Research Fellow, Group for Legal and Political Studies (GLPS), Pristina
– Gjergji Vurmo, Programme Director, Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM), Tirana
– Ardita Abazi Imeri, Programme Coordinator, European Policy Institute (EPI), Skopje
Moderator: Milena Lazarević, Programme Director, CEP
After that, an open discussion with the audience will be held. The event will take place online, and it will be in English. You can register for the event here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ND11k8yaQw657Z85jwIl-w.
Participants will be able to ask questions either by raising a virtual hand, after which they will be turned on with a camera and microphone, or by leaving comments or using the Q&A option, and after reactions, the moderator will read these questions.