148 Publications

The devil in the detail - Why the EU-Turkey deal will fail and how to get to a deal that works

29 Nov 2015

Unless this deal is substantially improved in the coming days and weeks, it simply sets the stage for failure. The influx of refugees coming into the EU from Turkey will not abate. Both sides will then blame each other. Frustration will erode already dangerously low levels of trust. Precious time will have been wasted.


Turkey as a "Safe Third Country" for Greece

17 Oct 2015

A “safe third country” describes a country that it safe for asylum seekers of nationalities other than that of this country. The ESI proposal is based on the assumption that Turkey is a safe third country for asylum-seekers from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries, so that Greece could return them to Turkey without jeopardising their rights and safety.


The 2015 refugee crisis through statistics - A compilation for politicians, journalists and other concerned citizens

17 Oct 2015

The Greek-Turkish borders have been for years one of the main gateways to the EU for asylum seekers and other migrants who intend to reach the EU by illegally crossing borders. Between 2010 and mid-2012, the land route was the preferred way. In 2013, the total number of detections of illegal border crossings fell to 12,600 at all Greek-Turkish borders following a series of measures at the land border and in Greece. However, pressure started rising at the Greek-Turkish sea border to reach record numbers in 2014. 


The Merkel Plan – A proposal for the Syrian refugee crisis

4 Oct 2015

This paper outlines how an agreement between Germany and Turkey could have an immediate and dramatic impact on the Syrian refugee crisis. It would restore control over Europe’s south-eastern border without sacrificing compassion for the refugees. But with the far right resurgent across Europe, the window of opportunity for decisive action is closing fast.


Why people don't need to drown in the Aegean - A policy proposal

17 Sep 2015

It is essential that asylum seekers are accepted from Turkey, before they take to boats to cross the Aegean. As a quid pro quo, it is also essential that Turkey agrees to take back all the refugees that reach Greece, from the moment the deal is signed. It is the combination of these measures that will cut the ground from under the feet of the people smugglers.

Western Balkans

Teaching War - How Croatian schoolbooks changed and why it matters (Textbook series – part one)

16 Sep 2015

Nationalists do not accept the view that in a democracy a historian’s role is to challenge cherished myths; and that in an open society history education should prepare students for citizenship in a world where all institutions are imperfect – a world where, unnervingly, even those we admire may be responsible for crimes.

Doing Business

Rankings that fail - Bosnia, Macedonia and Doing Business 2015

23 May 2015

There is an obvious problem with how countries are ranked in the Doing Business project. Imagine two very different economies from two hypothetical countries seeking to climb the rankings. The first country – let us call it Balkania – consists mainly of cafés, small shops, wedding parlours and subsistence farmers. The other, Danubia, is an industrial economy producing high-value goods for export, with chemical plants, agro-processing, pharmaceuticals and industrial agriculture. 

EU enlargement

Sectoral Statistics - How to compare seven countries - Scorecard 2014

22 May 2015

The Statistical Roadmap for accession countries consists of three parts, based on the three categories used for many years in the progress reports for chapter 18: Block I: Statistical infrastructure; Block II: Classifications and registers; Block III: Sectoral Statistics. Every year Eurostat looks at compliance with EU standards concerning individual statistical benchmarks.


Why Kosovo needs migration - From research to policy

23 Apr 2015

In 2005 ESI undertook research on rural poverty, migration and remittances in Kosovo. Our conclusions were published in 2006 in a report called “Cutting the Lifeline” that showed how migration had been a necessity for many generations of young men in particular. The report also examined how after 1999, the European doors to legal work migration closed, and only the lucky few with close family in the diaspora could migrate through family reunification schemes.


Measuring corruption – The case for deep analysis and a simple proposal

19 Mar 2015

Which statements the European Union makes about corruption in South East Europe today have depth? Which are based on serious reflection and hard evidence? This matters because EU statements on corruption should be not only descriptive but also prescriptive not only pointing out how things are, but also how they ought to be.

Doing Business

Bosnia as Wunderkind of Doing Business - Outline of 14 steps to take – A Proposal to the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina

19 Mar 2015

We carefully studied the astonishing rise in Doing Business rankings by Georgia and Macedonia. Here we outline how within one year Bosnia can reach a better rank than the Balkan average; and it will help you understand how within another year Bosnia could overtake the EU. The objective is to make Bosnia another global Wunderkind of Doing Business.

Return to Europe Revisited

The good news from Greece – Can Thessaloniki point the way?

22 Feb 2015

He has always been a man of the left. He entered politics with the backing of the Communist Party in local elections in 2002. In his campaigns he promised liberation from a conservative status quo that had kept society “dwelling in darkness.” He assailed the corruption of his predecessor, who is now in jail. In 2010 he won the election for mayor by a mere 300 votes. He rejected his predecessor’s expensive limousine and is often seen on a bike. He never wears a tie. In 2014, he was re-elected as mayor of Greece’s second city by a huge margin.

EU enlargement

Paris Paper: Enlargement and impact. Twelve ideas for 2015 - Dummy report

28 Jan 2015

For reformers anywhere time is the scarcest resource. Leaders everywhere today face the risk of drowning in information, being swamped by articles, conversations, emails and occasionally reports and books. Active people live on top of ever-growing mountains of words. And “a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”

Western Balkans

Protests and Illusions – How Bosnia and Herzegovina lost a decade

23 Dec 2014

Bosnia and Herzegovina is the only country in South East Europe were it is possible to publish a report first published in 2004 as relevant in 2014. No other country lost a full decade. We hope that this will help new governments in Bosnia – and international policy makers – to also avoid the traps into which they fell during the past ten years.

Western Balkans

Books and Teachers – The Great Debate on Education Kosovo needs in 2015

22 Dec 2014

Kosovo has the youngest population in Europe, with half its population under the age of 26. A quarter of the population is in schools at any given time. In the coming decade, these students will be leaving schools and will face a most uncertain future. If things go well, today’s students will help their country catch up with the rest of Europe. If things go badly, they will be deprived of prospects, short of jobs and income, tempted to take to the streets in protest or to seek to emigrate.

Return to Europe Revisited

Bulgaria – Transition and happiness - a Bulgarian paradox?

1 Dec 2014

Bulgarians are famously unhappy. A Gallup Poll discovered in 2009 that the citizens of this small Balkan nation had lower expectations for how their life would be five years later than Iraqis and Afghans. Bulgarians were not surprised by this discovery. A leading Sofia-based think tank, the Centre for Liberal Strategies (CLS), had already published a paper in 2003 titled Optimistic Theory about the Pessimism of the Transition.

Students and Erasmus

Turkish Students, Isolation and the Erasmus Challenge

24 Jul 2014

This paper identifies major issues that prevent Turkish students from going abroad in higher numbers: a foreign language deficit; a lack of attractive courses for foreign students in Turkey, which makes it harder for many universities to sign cooperation agreements with foreign partners; a lack of funding for Turkish Erasmus students; and complicated visa application procedures.

Return to Europe Revisited

Turkey – Kafka's World and the Trial of Mehmet O.

24 Jul 2014

Turkey has a tradition of rough and ready criminal justice. Judges virtually never reject an indictment, including many unconvincing ones launched by overzealous prosecutors. With a population smaller than Germany, Turkey had five times more criminal cases in 2010. Germany has 24 judges per 100,000 inhabitants; Turkey only 11. The workload for every Turkish judge is thus more than ten times that of a judge in Germany. One can see the results in any ordinary criminal court across the country, where a judge hears up to 20 cases a day.

EU enlargement

Vladimir and Estragon in Skopje - A fictional conversation on trust and standards and a plea on how to break a vicious circle

17 Jul 2014

There is no past, no future, just an endlessly repeating present. Characters are imprisoned in a single place, unable to leave. They inhabit a universe filled with futile dialogue and futile gestures. People are lost. We are on the set of Waiting for Godot. We are in the world of EU-Macedonian relations in 2014. Is this the future of European enlargement policy throughout South East Europe?

Return to Europe Revisited

Kosovo – Of Patriarchs and Rebels

1 Jun 2014

Kosovo’s (male) politicians repeat on every occasion that they see their country’s future as a member of the European Union. For this to happen, however, not only will the five EU member states yet to recognise Kosovo’s independence need to change their position, but the country will need more people willing to challenge its taboos. It will need champions for girls’ education, a revolution in the labour market and new forms of family life and gender relations.