ESI's Senior Analyst Alexandra Stiglmayer participated in a workshop called "Southeastern Europe and Europe 2014: Rethinking and Refilling the Toolbox". The workshop was organised by the German Südosteuropa-Gesellschaft at the Bundestag in Berlin. Its aims were to take stock of EU enlargement policies and instruments, the challenges facing the EU, and the future of the EU and Southeast Europe.
The topics discussed ranged from the significance and consequences of Croatia's imminent accession on 1 July, to the economic situation in the Western Balkans, the EU and Turkey; and from the recent Serbia-Kosovo "Agreement of Principles governing the Normalisation of Relations" to ways how the enlargement process could be improved. The participants, who included think-tankers, politicians and academics from the Western Balkans and the EU, provided a variety of ideas.
Overall they agreed that there is no alternative to EU integration of the Western Balkans, but that the enlargement process, and in particular the "pre-enlargement process", has become too drawn-out and must be improved in order to remain meaningful. This was also Alexandra's main point, and she made a few proposals how this could be achieved. The participants were of the opinion that the enlargement process has to be made more relevant to people, which could be achieved by engaging grass-root organisations and civil society to a greater extent and by fostering mobility and contacts. They also expressed the belief that more had to be done to tackle the dire economic situation in the Western Balkans. The discussions are summarised in the conference report. The programme and list of participants is also available.