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The European Union’s Quest for Strategic Autonomy in the Western Balkans: Political and Economic Perspectives

28/06/2022, Hybrid event

The future of Europe and of EU enlargement are high on the agenda. They will be discussed on 23-24 June 2022, first at the European Council then at the EU-Western Balkans high-level conference organised under the auspices of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union. EU leaders will be called upon to take far-reaching decisions not just regarding the requests by Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia for candidate status, but also the pressure from the countries of the Western Balkans to unblock their sclerotic accession process. Most attention so far has focused on the need to give the three Eastern Partnership countries a credible accession perspective; and yet the credibility of that offer depends on the EU’s treatment of the six Balkan countries, since they are already on the path from post-conflict reconstruction to membership. Meanwhile, some Western Balkan countries are advancing their own plans for economic integration with each other, raising questions of compatibility and synergies with the region’s integration into the EU.

The conference is a joint initiative of the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) and the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP). It will discuss two issues of EU enlargement policy which have implications for the future of Europe as a whole: how enlargement policy relates to the EU’s drive for strategic autonomy following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; and the geo-strategic implications of regional economic integration within the Western Balkans.

"This event benefits from the financial contribution of the Compagnia di San Paolo Foundation and of the Policy Planning Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation pursuant to art. 23-bis of Presidential Decree 18/1967. The positions expressed are exclusively those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the positions of the Compagnia di San Paolo Foundation and of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation."

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