In Paris, on May 19, 2022, a public debate was held within the network “Western Balkans towards the European Union”, which brings together 17 civil society organizations, universities, and institutes from 16 different countries.
The public debate referred to the issue of the current political situation in Eastern Europe and the possibility of the war in Ukraine opening the door to the countries of the Western Balkans to join the European Union, but also to speed up the existing European integration processes.
Participants in the debate had the opportunity to discuss various topics important for the Western Balkans region and the perspective of future membership of all countries in the European Union, but also the current political situation in Ukraine and its impact on the region.
The public debate took place in France, the country currently holding the presidency of the Council of the European Union. Several members of the European Parliament also addressed the participants of the “Western Balkans towards the European Union” network.
In the light of current events, the participants of the network came to the conclusion through a debate with experts in the field of EU integration that greater EU involvement is needed in the Western Balkans but also pointed out the favorable mention for the possible opening of new clusters. The conclusion is that the moments of crisis are favorable for accelerating EU integration. It is also not realistic for Ukraine to join the European Union before the countries of the Western Balkans, which are already officially candidates for EU accession.
The next day, the member organizations of the “Western Balkans towards the European Union” network held a partnership meeting on plans for further work and future activities.
The following public debate within the network, dedicated to democratization, will be held in Belgrade in September 2022.
The “WB2EU” network consists of 17 renowned think-tanks, do-tanks, higher education institutes and policy centres from the countries that will be most decisive for the enlargement process in the upcoming years. Other than Foundation BFPE for a Responsible Society, members of the network are: Austrian Society for European Politics (ÖGfE), Austrian Institute for International Affairs (oiip), Cooperation and Development Institute (CDI), University of Sarajevo, Faculty of Political Sciences, Change Experts Group, Politikon Network (PIN), EUROTHINK – Center for European Strategies, New Bulgarian University, Centre for European Refugees, Migration and Ethnic Studies (CERMES), Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO), EuropaNova, Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP), Department for Political Science & International Relations, University of the Peloponnese, Andrássy University, International Affairs Institute (IAI), GlobalFocus Center, University of Ljubljana – Centre of International Relations (CIR)