Europe and the EU

Closing the economic gap between the Western Balkans and the EU
13 Oct 2020 11:00 - 12:30
Source: The Think for Europe Network (TEN)

The Think for Europe Network (TEN) and the Clingendael Institute are looking ahead at the EU’s policies to support socio-economic development of the Western Balkans. 

What role for rule of law conditionality?

Beyond the immediate assistance the EU provided to the Western Balkans to tackle short-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU is committed to supporting long-term economic development of the Western Balkans through a variety of financial instruments. Given that the region’s economic convergence gap with the EU is widening, many challenges lie ahead before the Western Balkans and the EU, especially in making the best of its available funds dedicated towards this region.

Based on the negative experience with certain EU member states, it seems crucial to ensure that the awaited EU’s financial assistance supports good governance and democratic consolidation, instead of unintentionally producing opposite effects. In fact, European Commission’s country reports proposed a direct link between the functioning of the market economy and the enforcement of the rule of law. At the same time, the just released communication on Economic and Investment Plan pays considerable attention to good governance in the context of economic growth, thus putting additional pressure on EU aspirants to take the “EU fundamentals” more seriously.

Online public debate

This panel discussion will address the of rule of law conditionality in the context of the EU’s economic development assistance, the prospects for the region’s economic catch-up with the EU, as well as how the existing instruments can be embedded in the revised accession methodology and its principles of greater transparency, public scrutiny, and “more for more” approach.


  • Allan Jones, Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), European Commission
  • Milena Lazarević, European Policy Centre (CEP), Belgrade
  • Simonida Kacarska, European Policy Institute (EPI), Skopje
  • Gjergji Vurmo, Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM), Tirana
  • Wouter Zweers, the Clingendael Institute, The Hague

Moderator: Sena Marić, CEP