Building a Consensus on the Initiative for Staged Accession to the EU

Since October 2023, the European Policy Centre (CEP) has been implementing the project titled “Building a Consensus on the Initiative for Staged Accession to the EU.”

The Staged Accession Model, an initiative jointly devised by CEP and the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) from Brussels, has emerged as a focal point for discussions regarding the future of EU enlargement policy. Initially introduced in October 2021, the Model underwent substantial enhancements in August 2023, bolstered by support from the Open Society Foundation (OSF), which facilitated the production of 14 issue papers, serving as the foundation to develop Template 2.0 for Staged Accession Model.

This project aims to maximise the impact of Template 2.0 and inform the enlargement-related decisions of the December 2023 and March 2024 European Council summits, and ahead of the upcoming elections for the European Parliament. The enlargement goal has become even more important since the beginning of Russian aggression against Ukraine, which has further emphasised the need for the EU to admit the Western Balkans and strengthen its geopolitical influence in the region.

The project enables CEP to conduct advocacy missions to EU member states, strategically timed before and after the European Council meeting held in December 2023, which is crucial as the Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, also a form of gradual integration, was adopted at the meeting. The missions encompass a wide spectrum of activities, both one-on-one and group meetings with key representatives from mid- to high-level positions within pertinent ministries, specifically those responsible for foreign and European affairs. Furthermore, apart from the foreign ministries, CEP also targets representatives from legislative bodies and civil society organisations to build as wide a consensus as possible. Each mission and even individual meetings follow tailor-made agendas according to the unique concerns of the member states involved. It is also important to note that CEP has leveraged a robust and well-connected network of contacts within the member states slated for visitation to ensure that each visit yields maximum impact and effectiveness in advancing CEP’s advocacy objectives.

Due to the unanimous decision-making required for any enlargement policy decision, the project covers a broad range of EU member states as part of the advocacy campaign. It includes traditionally influential member states in enlargement policy and those perceived to have a disproportionately significant impact relative to their size. Careful consideration is given to avoid duplicating efforts in countries where CEP had already established thorough contacts through alternative channels. Finally, the list of the visited countries includes:

  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • the Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Sweden

Contact person: Ljubica Kovačević, Project Manager (

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