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Europeanisation meets democracy from below: The Western Balkans on the search for new European and democratic Momentum (WB2EU)

Erasmus+ Jean Monnet Networks Project (621247-EPP-1-2020-1-AT-EPPJMO-NETWORK)

The next few years will be decisive for the democratic and European future of the Western Balkans.
In addition to a credible enlargement perspective and a positive enlargement narrative, which needs to be reinvented and reinvigorated, it is vital to support rule of law, civil dialogue, pluralism and the fight against corruption as well as the social dimension. It is crucial to invest more in social inclusion, to support the broad vision of just and democratic societies, which needs to include various bottom-up initiatives and actors.

The “WB2EU network” will activate connect research disseminate and create joint output on the defined topics by bringing together academia, civil society and relevant stakeholders on national, regional and EU level. The Jean Monnet Network project is led by The Austrian Society for European Politics / Die Österreichische Gesellschaft für Europapolitik (ÖGfE). 

Key points:

  • reform, consolidate and reenergise EU Enlargement until 2025 and beyond
  • mobilise, support and engage with progressive and emancipatory forces from below (movements, citizens, local initiatives) that are truly European and pro-democratic
  • enhance youth and alternative voices and forces in the society
  • strengthen social dimension, rule of law and justice in the region
  • connect young and senior researchers, scholars, representatives of civil society, national and EU institutions, stakeholders, policy-makers, and citizens engaged in pro-democratic initiatives (local/regional/national)
The project is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union. 
For further information please visit the central website of the project:
1st Ideas go public
Moving forward or standing still? New momentum for the European future of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
30. June 2021, 17:00 – 18:00, online event
The EU Enlargement is in dire need of new momentum, yet rule of law, justice and fundamental right reforms do not seem to be of utmost priority to the governments in the region. Is there a way to move forward and create new dynamics by seriously addressing these issues, or will insisting on reforms turn out to be a good excuse from both sides and a stumbling block for the European path of the region? Will Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans continue to stand still in terms of EU integration or start to move forward? This discussion will take a closer look into the state of play of rule of law, judiciary and fundamental rights reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina, both from the perspective of the EU, the wider region as well as from the citizens in the country.
The first kick-off conference of WB2EU took place online on 23.03.2021 and 24.03.2021
First op eds and publications of the project were published in March 2021, the first op ed is published also in Hungarian.

2nd "Ideas go public Lab", on the 14-15 October 2021 in Ljubljana (Programme

For a long time, the Central and East European new member states such as Slovenia were a symbol
of successful Europeanisation and of the strength of the enlargement policy as the most important
foreign policy tool of the European Union. In the last decade, they have taken a central role in the
divide over fundamental norms and rules such as independent judiciary, media and civil society, thus
ultimately playing in favour of the enlargement fatigue in the Western Europe.

The public debate will among others address the following questions:

- What did Ursula Von der Leyen’s tour in September tell about the reformed enlargement
policy being up to the institutional and geopolitical challenges in the region?
- How will the German elections impact the rule of law and enlargement policy?
- What is the climate in the European Council as seen from the outcome of the informal EUWestern
Balkans Summit? How prominently figures here the questions of the rule of law and
lack of reforms in this sector?
- Are multi-ethnic countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and North Macedonia
losing their grounds vis-à-vis the strongmen and growing nationalisms in the region? How will
this impact the reform impetus?
- Are we witnessing a re-emergence of the ethnic conflicts as a result of the weakening of the
multilateral-normative framework?

- Peter Grk, Head of the Bled Strategic Forum (BSF) department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the
Republic of Slovenia
- Senada Šelo Šabić, Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO), Croatia
- Marko Makovec, Director/Deputy Managing Director, Western Europe, Western Balkans, Turkey and
United Kingdom, European External Action Service (EEAS)
- Dimitar Nikolovski, Director of the Centre for European Strategies (EUROTHINK), North Macedonia
- Donika Emini, Executive Director of CiviKos Platform, Kosovo

Moderated by Vedran Džihić, Austrian Institute for International Affairs (oiip), WB2EU network

Live Streaming for the public debate October 14 (Public Event)


The first Policy Brief of Christina Griessler and Fanni Elek "Hungary, an anti-role model for successful EU integration?" is published on the website of ÖGfE.   

Projektleiter(Innen): Dr. Christina GRIESSLER
Externe(r) Projektleiter(Innen): Paul Schmidt, Vedran Džihić, ÖGfE
Projektmitarbeiter(Innen): Fanni ELEK
Wissenschaftsbereich(e): Politikwissenschaft
Forschungsschwerpunkt: Forschungsschwerpunkt 1: Europäische Integrationsprozesse
Status des Projektes: Aktiv
Projektbeginn: 29. Oktober 2020
Projektende: 28. Oktober 2023
2021-9 Oktober 2021 2021-11
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