The Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Tirana and Qemal Stafa Foundation (FQS) are joining forces to host an international conference entitled ‘One continent, one future: The EU enlargement to the Western Balkans’ in Tirana, Albania, between 21-22 February 2020.
The Western Balkans are going through a historic process to firmly bind their future to the EU. As part of Europe, the EU Member States and the Western Balkan countries have a common heritage and history, and a future defined by shared challenges and opportunities.
The process of enlargement of the EU to the Western Balkans has proceeded in recent years amidst alternate interests of reticent and divided EU Member States and produced mixed results. In 2018, the decision of the European Commission to issue a new strategy towards the Western Balkans, which recognised that the interests of the EU and those of the region largely coincide, and the Prespa agreement between North Macedonia and Greece, seemed to have finally cleared the field for further and more concrete efforts towards enlargement. Last October “non-decision” by the European Council to open negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, however, has again blocked the whole process, and risks to frustrate even further the Western Balkan countries’ hopes to join, one day, the European Union. Against this backdrop, 2020 could represent a real turning point in the relations between the EU and the countries in the region that aspire to membership.
This conference aims to offer an opportunity to key stakeholders in the region, European progressive policymakers and experts to engage in a frank discussion on the challenges ahead, on how to allow the process to gain momentum and turn enlargement into a more concrete perspective for the region and for the EU.