23 June 2005
The EU after the constitution: A new financial perspective

ESI Senior Analyst Verena Knaus was invited to attend a conference in Ljubljana organised by the Institute for Strategic Studies. Ms Knaus gave a presentation on new perspectives for the European Union after the constitutional referenda in France and the Netherlands.

The EU is facing several serious challenges during the course of the next decade, among these the next enlargement round with Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey, the unresolved sovereignty issues involving Serbia and Montenegro and Kosovo, Albania's chronically weak state and the underdevelopment trap in several countries of the Western Balkans.

In this context the current regulation on 'Instruments for Pre-Accession Assistance' (IPA) in the next EU budget from 2007 to 2014 introduces a sharp division between Candidate countries (Turkey, Croatia, Macedonia) and Potential candidate countries (Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bosnia Herzegovina).

Ms Knaus elaborated on the argument that the potential candidates in the Western Balkans should be given the chance to progress towards EU membership on an equal footing with previous candidates. She stressed that a credible strategy for integrating the region into the EU, and preventing the emergence of a Balkan ghetto, is critical not just for the region, but also for the EU itself.

The consequences if such a change is not implemented might be severe. It could send out the message that the EU takes no serious interest in either rural, agricultural or infrastructure development. As aid declines political tensions might rise (Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo), strong migratory pressures will remain and the development crisis in the 'Balkan ghetto' will deepen in coming years.

The coming year should see candidate status for Macedonia (by early 2006), the completion of Stabilisation and Association Agreements with Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro, and Albania by end of 2006 (equivalent agreement with Kosovo) as well as a change to IPA and the availability of pre-accession instruments for ALL countries in the Western Balkans.

Über uns
Photo credits
Alan Grant is an Irish photographer who travelled extensively in the Balkans and other countries and regions of the world. Thanks to him, ESI is able to show fascinating pictures of the Balkans: the facades of Tirana, the painted mosques of Travnik, the fabulous old houses of Plovdiv and the spectacular blue of water - dark in the Bay of Kotor, emerald in the river valleys of Bosnia, deep blue in Ohrid, twinkling in the Aegean Sea and on the Bosporus.

You can find out more about Alan Grant on his websites:
Jonathan Lewis lives between London and Istanbul. He moved to London and spent many years studying photography and now specialises in photojournalism, documentary photography and commercial work for a wide variety of private and commercial clients in the UK, Europe and Turkey. His work has appeared in a number of magazines and publications and is used on the ESI website as well.

You can find out more about Jonathan Lewis on his website www.jonathanlewisphoto.com