Francisco de Borja Lasheras, Policy Fellow and Associate Director of ECFR Madrid Office
Vessela Tcherneva, Senior Director for Programmes and Acting Head of ECFR Sofia Office
Almut Möller, Senior Policy Fellow and Head of ECFR Berlin Office
Geopolitics is back in the Western Balkans. Competition between great powers has returned to the region, and the European Union – absorbed by other crises – is struggling to respond. There is a growing sense in the region that the EU is falling apart and is not serious about integration. This is creating a power vacuum into which other actors, particularly Russia but also Turkey, are inserting themselves. Unless it takes decisive action, the EU’s influence in the Western Balkans, and the long-term project of integrating and democratising its countries, could be undermined.
The workshop aimed to facilitate increased shared understanding and the building of strong relationships between European experts, officials, and members of parliament around the future of the EU’s engagement with the countries in Southeastern Europe, and will discuss policy measures that can support the EU in responding to this new geopolitical environment.
The recently published paper “Return to Instability: how migration and great power politics threaten the Western Balkans” by Francisco de Borja Lasheras, Vessela Tcherneva and Fredrik Wesslau served as the basis for the discussion.