Following the French Strategy for the Western Balkans adopted in 2019, the European Policy Centre (CEP) has been engaged in a project highlighting the reengagement of France in the region themed France and the Western Balkans – a Strategic Engagement; Boosting exchanges with society, promoting political and economic cooperation alongside partners from Europe and the region:
- Eurocréative, Paris
- Austro-French Centre for Rapprochement in Europe (ÖFZ)
- Cooperation and Development Institute (CDI), Tirana
- European Policy Institute (EPI), Skopje
- Institut français des relations internationales (Ifri), Paris
Noting that despite strong historical affinities France has not played a leading role in the Western Balkans, and in line with the reengagement of France in European affairs with the goal of boosting strategic autonomy of the Union, Paris took a definite step towards intensifying economic, political, and societal cooperation with the region. To this end, France has, alongside Germany, initiated several projects, expanded the mandate of the French Development Agency, and greenlighted the commencement of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. Moreover, this project aims at promoting long-term stability in the region, boosting academic exchange with universities, and empowering civil society. Additionally, the project explores possibilities for further ramping up the political and economic cooperation between the Western Balkans and France bearing in mind the European future of the region.
The project will be carried out throughout 2021, ahead of the French Presidency of the Council with the expected deliverables:
- An opening event organised in French on 8th June 2021
- Three online regional events organised in the Western Balkans by July 2021 to discuss key recommendations relative to economic, political, and societal cooperation respectively;
- Based on these events, experts from the region will work on three Policy Papers / Strategic Roadmaps published in English and in French in October 2021;
- Expert’s recommendations will be presented at the three events organised in France in October-December 2021 (on economic, political and societal cooperation respectively).