Sitemap

Srđan Majstorović, Chairman of the Governing Board, European Policy Centre – CEP

The Treacherous Summer of 2019

Eun Hai Kim, President Of The International Women’s Club, Belgrade

Empowerment Is The Creation Of Self

Women’s empowerment can be interpreted in many...

Comment

Serbia’s Digital Transformation Paying Dividends

Over the recent past, eGovernment services have...

World Economic Forum

Digital Trust Is The Challenge Of The Decade

The World Economic Forum brought together representatives...

By Ljubivoje Radonjić, Public Policy Research Center

Ever-more Platform Workers From The Region On The Global Labour Market

The project Gigmeter aims to identify systemic...

Spectatular Mileston In First Boeing 767 Conversion In Europe Marked At Ceremony In JAT Tehnika

Avia Prime Group, one of the leading organizations for aircraft maintenance in Europe, consisting of three eminent companies including...

Ministry Of Mining And Energy And USAID Forge Energy Partnership

The Ministry of Mining and Energy (MoME) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) signed a Memorandum...

Donation Agreement Signed For The Fourth Section Of Trans-Balkan Corridor

The Minister of Mining and Energy Dubravka Đedović, the Minister for European Integration Tanja Miščević, the director of Elektromreža...

Serbia Celebrates The Chinese New Year

With the warm wishes of Chinese Ambassador H.E. Chen Bo and Prime Minister of Serbia Ana Brnabić to strengthen...

Serbia Has 500 Tons Of Gold In Existing And Potential Deposits

According to the latest estimates of the Geological Survey of Serbia (GZS), which were made in 2000, Serbia has...

Following the European Parliament (EP) elections and the start of the process of forming new EU bodies, it is obvious that the Union as we know it today is set to change

The EP appears more fragmented than ever before, with traditional political groups having suffered their worst results. Yet, it would be wrong to consider this outcome as purely negative. The pluralism of the contesting political actors and ideas in the EP reflect the shift in the mood of EU citizens. And while mirroring their concerns (the future of work, climate change, migration), it also better represents the new reality within the Union.

The election of Ursula von der Leyen as President of the European Commission (EC) was a product of this new reality. Her candidacy deviated from the Spitzenkandidaten process and was a direct product of back-room deals between the leaders of EU member states. In this context, she was confirmed as the new Commission president by a wafer-thin majority of nine votes in the EP (383/747). In her address before the EP, she vowed to tackle climate change, make the EU more democratic, deal with migrations, place a greater emphasis on social justice, strengthen the EU’s global role and lead an uncompromising fight for the rule of law. The circumstances of her election, however, will have a significant impact on her ability to steer her programme and the EU’s policies during her term.

EU policies will continue to be under the strong influence of the national politics of member states. This also includes the future of the EU enlargement process. One of the first signs of the EU’s intentions regarding the enlargement policy will be the composition of the new European Commission and the distribution of portfolios. A comprehensive, credible and efficient EU enlargement policy requires administrative, institutional and financial support with a name, a face and a telephone number in Brussels. Rumours about the future of DG NEAR are rightfully causing unease among candidates and potential candidate countries. Nevertheless, a good sign is that three EU member states are currently showing an interest in the Enlargement portfolio (according to diplomatic sources).

Regardless of the future composition and structure of the next EC, there are several key points that Western Balkan countries should address. First, they should put their differences aside and try to formulate a common vision of the Western Balkans as a future EU region. Joint vocal support for Albania and North Macedonia to start EU accession negotiations, and support to visa liberalisation for Kosovo citizens could mark a positive change in the regional atmosphere. Closer cooperation and regional integration is the right way for these countries to present themselves as credible future members. Second, resolving the legacy of the recent past and remaining bilateral issues represent preconditions to move forward. Without the comprehensive normalisation of relations in the region, Western Balkan countries will not be able to function and cooperate as EU members.

Third, the governments of the region should pay particular attention to reforms addressing the rule of law. The New Commission President noted that there will be no compromise with respect to the rule of law in EU member states. It is obvious that requirements for rule of law reforms in candidate and potential candidate countries will come into focus even more in the future. The announced introduction of an EU-wide Rule of Law Mechanism should be extended to a candidate and potential candidate countries. That would enable better and more objective benchmarking for aspiring countries, more effective monitoring of progress and better leverage in assuring the sustainability of reforms in Western Balkan countries. Furthermore, by applying this mechanism simultaneously in EU member states and candidate countries, it would be a positive sign that the process of deepening the EU’s policies can happen in unison with the Union’s enlargement.

Fourth, requests for more democracy in the EU should also be mirrored in the Western Balkans. The announcement of a “Conference on the Future of Europe” (to start in 2020 and run for two years) and consultations with EU citizens should also include future members. This would provide a good opportunity to open dialogue, improve communication with citizens of the region significantly, and engage civil society in contributing to the debate.

Fifth, in parallel with the process of establishing a new institutional setting, discussion of the Multi-annual Financial Framework 2021-2027 is ongoing. Western Balkan countries should use the opportunity to jointly advocate for stronger structural support to the region, especially in areas of infrastructure, digital connectivity, energy, and the environment and climate change. Structural support in the Western Balkans is a strategic investment in future EU infrastructure.

The summer of 2019 is, in many ways, important for the future of both the EU and the Western Balkans. The EU is beginning a new institutional cycle with a large number of challenges that offer an opportunity for the current generation of decisionmakers to address the concerns of EU citizens. The future of Europe depends on its ability to deal with global uncertainties imposed by allies, foes and contenders. One of the pieces of this multidimensional puzzle is the question of the Union’s ability to integrate Western Balkan countries and demonstrate confidence, capabilities and strategic autonomy. This is why the summer of 2019 is not (exclusively) for holidays; in fact, it is one of those treacherous summers that can define the future course of Europe.

Related Articles

Evaluating the Public Administration

User experience is very important in developing good services. The citizens of Serbia have recently had the opportunity to assess the level of service...

How the new composition of the European Commission impacts Serbia’s EU accession process?

Are We On The Back Seat Again?

In times when the European Union and its citizens are grappling with global and internal challenges, there is no place for the enlargement process...

Pekka Haavisto, Finnish Foreign Minister

We Europeans are in the Same Boat

The Finnish Presidency will maintain a focus on the enlargement policy, which we consider a strategic investment in peace, stability and prosperity in Europe....

H.E. Koenraad Adam, Ambassador of Belgium

No Shortcut to EU Accession

We have, over recent years, consistently defended the view that the Western Balkans needs to be given a European, merit-based perspective. That means that...

EU Election 2019

The New Leaders Nominated to Head the EU

Following a three-day marathon summit, European Union leaders elected five key positions to head the EU, with German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyden...

Banking Sector

In Which Direction is the Banking Sector Headed in Serbia?

The announced privatisation of Komercijalna Banka has again prompted the question of banking sector consolidation to emerge among experts and the general public. Contrary...

Earnings

Top Paying Jobs in Finance

“Wolves of Wall Street” aren’t the only ones who can live an extraordinary life. In fact, there are many ways to make good money...

Luštica Bay

Living Every Momentum

With a happening harbour-front and a range of beautiful waterside apartments, there has never been a better time to join the momentum of Luštica Bay