Note de recherche

A policy paper written by Dr Matteo Bonomi* based on the proceedings of the Balkan Reflection Forum

"After years of sluggish progress, the first half of 2018 has been characterised by renewed movements for EU enlargement. On February 6, the European Commission presented a new Enlargement Strategy for the Western Balkans. On May 17, EU and Western Balkan leaders met in Sofia at the EU-Western Balkans Summit, fifteen years after their last gathering in Thessaloniki. On June 12, Greece and Macedonia reached an agreement on their name dispute (although it remains to be seen whether the deal will pass the political and parliamentary hurdles in the two countries). On June 28/29, the European Council discussed the opening of accession negotiations with Albania and Macedonia unlocking the possibility for them to start in 2019. Lastly, on July 10, the UK hosted the Western Balkans Summit in London, which marked the end of the first cycle of the so-called Berlin Process with meetings in Berlin (2014), Vienna (2015), Paris (2016) and Trieste (2017).
This increased dynamism signals that the Western Balkans are back on the EU agenda. However, the number of meetings hardly proves any automatic advancement in the enlargement process. This is even more the case since improvements in the Western Balkans have been uncertain, at best, in terms of democracy, rule of law, governance, economic development and good-neighbourly relations. Moreover, despite the number of initiatives on the EU side, what still remains unclear is the level of ambition of the current EU re-engagement and, thus, how much attention, energy and resources the member states and EU institutions are ready to mobilise to enhance their transformative power in the region.
In order to discuss these and other issues, the third Western Balkans Reflection Forum was organized in Brussels on July 3rd and 4th 2018 in the run-up to the London intergovernmental conference on the Western Balkans.  The Reflection Forum provides a platform for fostering an exchange of perspectives between experts working in national and European institutions and researchers affiliated to think tanks and universities in the EU and the Western Balkans.
The three main areas of reflection in Brussels were: (1) The contribution of the Berlin Process to EU enlargement; (2) Re-thinking European integration beyond the current approach to enlargement; (3) The Western Balkans on the European agenda between the Sibiu European Council, Brexit and European elections. (...)"

Accès à la note de recherche et aux annexes ici.

*Matteo Bonomi, Ph.D., is joining the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) in Rome as researcher in November 2018. His professional experience has been increasingly related to EU enlargement policy, in particular to the Balkan - EU integration process. He has worked and cooperated with various institutes, think tanks, foundations and administrative agencies in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania. He presented his PhD dissertation on “European Integration and the Crisis of the Nation State. Analysis of the Interlinkages between Law and Politics within the EU" at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa, Italy in 2014.


Bonomi Western Balkan EU CIFE IAI SWP Brussels Berlin Rome