Western Balkans: is the EU still a pull factor?

Panel Discussion

Western Balkans: is the EU still a pull factor?

16:00 – 17:30, Hotel Golf, Jupiter Hall


  • H. E. Mr Igor Crnadak, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • H. E. Mr Ivica Dačić, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia
  • Ms Tanja Fajon, Member of the European Parliament
  • Mr Štefan Fule, Special Envoy for the Western Balkans at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic
  • H. E. Mr Enver Hoxhaj, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo
  • Prof. Dr Dejan Jović, Professor of International Relations and Head of Department of International Relations at the Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb, Croatia
  • Ambassador Aleksandar Pejović, Secretary of State for European Integration at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Montenegro
  • H. E. Mr Nikola Poposki, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Macedonia
  • H. E. Mr Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary
  • Mr Hoyt Yee, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, US Department of State


Moderated by: Mr Tobias Flessenkemper, Senior Fellow and Balkans Project Director at the European Institute – Centre international de formation européenne, France

So far, the EU enlargement process has been one of the most successful EU policies. Each group of new members seems to have brought fresh strength and additional quality to the European Union family. The process was becoming increasingly demanding, but the attraction of the EU prevailed. As before, for the countries of the Western Balkans, progress on the EU path remains the best motivator for reforms, sustainable progress and stability.
However, in the past couple of years a number of crises have abruptly exposed the EU’s vulnerabilities and weaknesses. For how long can the EU retain its pull factor and attractiveness?
In times of crisis, when the EU faces the challenge of agreeing upon an efficient response to migration and ensuring the appropriate treatment of refugees, coordination and partnership between the EU and candidate countries is not only necessary, but should be recognised as a precondition for any kind of positive results.
At the point when some of the Western Balkan leaders are openly stating that the EU might no longer be very desirable, it is perhaps time to recognise the need to speed up some processes, deepen cooperation and engage in a new kind of discussion. Have we come to the point of recognising that the EU is something the Western Balkans desire, and the Western Balkans is something the EU needs?

To download the panel discussion backgrounder and guiding questions click here.