"Cooperation instead of confrontation has been the advice given to the Western Balkan countries by the European Union for the past two decades. Thanks to the EU`s support, the region has been able to move ahead. Yet today, EU integration has lost its impetus. In the wake of the referendum in the UK and the rise of anti-EU sentiment throughout many member states, including France, this Reflection Forum will work on new ideas for European integration. For more than 60 years it has been CIFE´s vocation to provide a platform for fostering European cooperation and integration." said Tobias Flessenkemper, Project Director.
In August 2014, in the wake of the centenary of First World War, the Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel initiated an intergovernmental process with the countries of the Western Balkans. Its aim has been to improve their cooperation, put “fundamentals first” and thereby reinvigorate their European integration. The first conference in Berlin was followed by a second one in Vienna in 2015. A third one will take place in Paris in 2016, marking the middle of the process, originally intended come to an end in 2018, at the occasion of the centenary of the end of the First World War.
In this perspective, the CFA, CIFE and IFRI organises a reflection forum for reflection on the Western Balkans in Paris on May, 30th and 31st 2016, in cooperation with Sciences Po CERI, SWP, EUISS, IAI, Oiip and Erste Foundation, and with the support of the MFA of France, Germany and Austria and the Austrian Embassy in Paris. The reflection forum, entitled “The Western Balkans in the European Union: new perspectives on integration?”, aims to discuss the relevance of a European dialogue of research and policy institutions on issues related to the Western Balkans and their European integration in the run-up to the Conference of Heads of State and Government from the Western Balkans countries hosted by President François Hollande on 4 July 2016.
The reflection forum will invite the community of European experts working on EU integration in the Western Balkans to highlight the challenges the EU faces in enlargement matters in the Western Balkans today and the contribution research can make to EU policy processes. It will provide a platform fostering the exchange of perspectives between experts working in national and European administrations and researchers affiliated to think tanks or academic institutes in France, the European Union and beyond.
The Forum will furthermore contribute to broadening the reflection about the Western Balkans among the policy community, the media and the general public. It will also create links to the Western Balkans Civil Society Forum and Sustainable Investment Forum, both organised on the margins of the intergovernmental Conference of Paris in July 2016, as well as establish a bridge to the next intergovernmental Conference to be held in Italy in the summer of 2017.
30 May 2016, Embassy of Austria in Paris, 6, rue Fabert, Paris
31 May 2016, French Institute for International Relations, 27, rue de la Procession, Paris
French Institute for International Relations (ifri), Paris; Centre international de formation européenne (CIFE), Nice/Berlin/Istanbul; Austro-French Centre for Rapprochement in Europe (CFA), Vienna.
In cooperation with:
Sciences Po CERI, Paris; Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), Berlin; European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS), Paris; Instituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), Rome; Austrian Institute for International Politics (Oiip), Vienna; Erste Foundation (ERSTE), Vienna
With the support of:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of France, Austrian Embassy in France, Federal Foreign office of Germany and Federal Ministry for European, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Austria.