Despite the outbreak of the pandemic, 2020 began with renewed hopes for the Western Balkans. Last March, the General Affairs Council green-lighted the opening of EU accession talks for Albania and North Macedonia. Moreover, after more than a year of stalemate, the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia will probably be resumed soon. Yet, the region is still prey to high instability factors, both economic and political. While all the Balkan countries are allegedly committed to a future in the European Union, the influence and soft power of other international powers are rising, as shown by the so-called “health diplomacy” during the COVID-19 crisis.
The initiative will consist of two online events aiming to discuss the topics deepened in the Report "The Balkans: Old, New Instabilities", published by ISPI with the support of the Unit for Analysis and Policy Planning of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, in accordance with Article 23-bis of the Decree of the President of the Italian Republic 18/1967.
First Online Round Table
14 May - 15:00-16:30 (CEST)
Despite falling economic prospects and growing political divisions in the EU, the Balkans still aim at full EU membership. Is that an achievable prospective? From Russia to China, from the US to Turkey: can other international actors be more credible partners and take advantage of the EU’s weakness? How and to what extent can COVID-19 further destabilise the political context of the region?
Second online round table:
21 May - 15:00-16:30 (CEST)
The coronavirus crisis will severely hit the already weak economies of the region, after years of stagnation or slow growth. What will the effect be on employment in the context of a weak welfare state and for a region characterised by a rising brain drain? From the EU budget to the EIB, what European funds will be available for the region after the COVID-19 emergency? What are the sectors that will be most affected by the pandemic?