What can the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union do for the Western Balkans? By Faris Kočan & Marko Lovec, ÖGfE Policy Brief, 12’2021
Within the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union several priorities are relevant from the perspective of the EU’s Western Balkans strategy. The informal EU-Western Balkans Summit scheduled for 6 October will be one of the highlights and opportunities to achieve progress. The EU member states and the six Western Balkans partners will discuss among other topics the reaffirmation of the European perspective of the Western Balkans, which is of mutual strategic interest, the development of the region’s socio-economic recovery in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the implementation of the Economic and Investment Plan, which should generate more sustainable, green, digital and people-focused growth, benefiting the region and Europe as a whole. Against this background, the authors of this Policy Brief explore what can be learned from the way enlargement policy has accommodated to the changing contexts and discuss the possible scenarios for the Western Balkans agenda during the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
- Slovenia should use the priorities of its Presidency of the Council of the European Union to further promote the geopolitical importance of the region for the EU amidst the enlargement fatigue, which is weakening the credibility of the EU vis-à-vis the Western Balkans.
- Slovenia should use the informal EU-Western Balkans Summit to further promote the new investment plan as an economic backbone for the ”Open Balkan” initiative in order to achieve positive progress in the EU accession process.
- To prove its critics wrong, the Slovenian government should promote a positive narrative on the EU-Western Balkans relations, raise awareness regarding the negative prospects for the whole region due to Bulgaria’s veto to North Macedonia’s accession process and distance itself from the recent non-paper with a clear and credible agenda for the Western Balkans during the informal summit.