New report - Breaking out of the Balkan Ghetto

1 June 2005

Please find attached the latest ESI discussion paper "Breaking out of the Balkan Ghetto".

As anxiety over further enlargement rises in the EU in the wake of recent referenda, the European Union is discussing a draft regulation for an Instrument of Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) which sets down the EU's assumptions for the Western Balkans. It assumes that Serbia-Montenegro and Kosovo, Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina will achieve candidate status around 2010, and membership sometime around 2020. This is far behind the expectations of the region and could send a dangerous signal at a crucial moment.

The strategy towards Albania, Serbia-Montenegro and Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina implicit in the draft regulation is essentially passive - even signing a Stabilisation and Association Agreement will neither increase the amount of assistance offered, nor change its quality. The potential candidates of the Western Balkans will not have access to the full package of pre-accession assistance for at least another five years. This passive approach risks compromising the EU's influence in the region at a time when some of the most difficult political steps - such as determining the status of Kosovo - will need to be taken.

This paper analyses the implications of the present IPA draft regulation. It proposes that all potential candidates should be given the chance to progress towards EU membership on an equal footing with previous candidates. Serbia-Montenegro and Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania should be given at least the same kind of support and incentives in 2007 as Bulgaria and Romania were given in 1997.

Recently, pro-European civil society organisations and politicians throughout the region have begun to make a case for changing IPA: see the Letter by leading NGOs from Serbia-Montenegro to Commissioner Olli Rehn and Response by Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Labus

As always we are looking forward to your comments and suggestions,

Best regards,

Gerald Knaus

Gerald Knaus