On 12 June 2018 ESI's Kristof Bender attended a workshop organised by the Centre for Liberal Strategies (CLS) and the Kreisky Forum in Vienna. He spoke at a panel on "The EU Western Balkans Strategy - opportunities, obstacles, credibility", arguing that the accession process is in serious trouble because few still believe that it delivers reforms in the accession countries. The problem is exaccerbated by weak assessment tools. The European Commission's reports on the countries make it hard to judge where exactly the different countries stand even in key areas such as the independence of the judiciary, public procurement, or civilian control of secret services. Kristof focused on a few ideas how to improve the format of the accession process which ESI will also present in a forthcoming paper.
Other panelists were Zoltan Martinusz, Director for Enlargement, Security, Civil Protection and Foreign Affairs at the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU, and Johanna Deimel, Deputy-Director of the Southeast Europe Association in Munich. For information about the other panels have a look at the programme.