Romania’s Presidency of the Council of the EU: opportunities and challenges

13.August 2018

by Miruna Butnaru-Troncotă 

2019 is a year with heavy symbolism for the European Union – we celebrate 15 years of the CEE enlargement, 30 years since the fall of communist regimes in South-Eastern Europe, but also 20 years since the war in Kosovo and NATO’s bombing of Serbia. Will 2019 be a year of renewed opportunities for the Western Balkans? Will the member states become more enlargement-friendly and opt for a ‘widening EU’ type of scenario? Let me explore some of the challenges and opportunities both for Romania as a member state holding the Presidency, and for the EU itself in relation to the WB countries.

#EURoad2Sibiu via the Western Balkans

06.August 2018

by Miruna Butnaru-Troncotă 

Any discussion about the European Union’s (EU) enlargement is implicitly a discussion on the future of Europe and vice versa. Brexit seems to have brought a visible shift towards exploring the possibilities of including new members, in an EU that has been affected for years by signs of ‘enlargement fatigue’, especially after Romania and Bulgaria’s accession in 2007. The so-called ‘road to Sibiu’ which sought to shape the future of the European Union started in Rome in March 2017 and will come to an end in May 2019. Will we experience then a new 'hour for Europe'? How will the debate on the ‘future of Europe’ affect the Western Balkans’ accession process?

European Union and Western Balkans complex relationship: should we be disappointed by the Sofia Summit?

08. June 2018

by Hatidza Jahic

Copyright: European Union, 2018

The European Union (EU) has developed close relationship with the Western Balkans (WB). The EU is the biggest trading partner and financial assistance provider (in terms of pre – accession funds, loans, support to civil society organisations etc.) for most of the WB countries. In 2018 alone, €1.07 billion of pre-accession assistance funds is foreseen for the Western Balkans, on top of the €9 billion during the 2007-2017 period. However, security challenges and other competitors such as Turkey and Russia have emerged in the region. This, among other factors, creates the demand for  new approach, instruments and actions. And Balkan people continuously ask themselves: is this really going to happen?

We don’t need no education – Bosnia and Herzegovina’s higher education reform

by Hatidza Jahic and Adnan Rahimic

hatidza-jahic 1-adnan-rahimic

The word ‘reform’ is the most commonly used word in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). One way or another the country has been in some kind of reform process for the past 22 years. Reform became like a family member: we live with reform every day; we eat fruits and vegetables that are produced according to ‘reform’ instructions. The constant use of this word by politicians, teachers, family members and media create the sense that if you want to succeed in life, you have to reform.

The Western Balkans Summit in Trieste – Are the Balkans stuck in the EU’s waiting room post-Brexit?

by Hatidza Jahic and Miruna Troncota

hatidza-jahic miruna-troncota

It’s been almost 15 years since the 2003 Thessaloniki promise of EU membership for the Western Balkans, and the countries in the region are still in the EU’s ‘waiting room’. The European Commission’s ‘White Paper on the Future of Europe’, published on 1 March 2017 does not mention EU enlargement at all. In the context of the 2017 Western Balkans Summit in Trieste, the first one to be organised after the Brexit vote, Miruna Troncotă (Ro) and Hatidza Jahic (BiH) ask: Are the Balkans forever stuck in the EU's waiting room?