Reflection Forum Tirana

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, in cooperation with the Austro-French Centre for Rapprochement, and with the support of a consortium of organizations from both EU member and non-member states, started a series of events under the title “The Western Balkans Discuss the Future of Europe”.

Building upon the Reflection Forum discussion rounds in the framework of the Berlin Process, this series aims to look on the Western Balkans as a region in Europe, i.e. as a region which can contribute to - rather than merely accommodate - EU visions and aspirations.

The first event in the series, focusing on the European “Widening vs Deepening” debate took place in Tirana on September 24-15, 2019. It was an opportunity for participants to shift away from topics usually dominating EU-WB fora such as enlargement fatigue, bilateral disputes or connectivity. Instead, the participants shared reflections on the “widening vs deepening" debate which were informed by their respective local experiences.

The event consisted of two elements, a closed-door workshop for younger representatives of the academic and CSO communities as well as a public debate with policy and decision-makers.

Around 25 participants reflected during the closed-door workshop on a series of questions including, among others, the question of "where Europe ends". The participants also discussed whether a deepening of relations among Western Balkans countries might contribute to the European debate on widening vs deepening. In that sense, youngsters gave examples on the region's experience with federalism and how that might actually be a noteworthy input from the region vis-a-vis wider debates on the future of Europe.

On the second day, a high-level public discussion was held with over 50 participants from the diplomatic corps in Tirana, representatives of the Albanian government including the Prime Minister’s cabinet, as well as with a number of CSO representatives and the interested public. During the debate, options to resolve the widening vs deepening debate including “multi-speed Europe” as well as different visions for the finality of Europe were discussed. Additionally, a rapporteur from the closed-door workshop from the previous day shared the views of the youngsters on these topics.

Unsurprisingly, the Q&A part of the public debate was influenced by the current issue of Albania and North Macedonia opening negotiations for membership as well as the outlook of individual EU member states on enlargement.

The series will continue with debates on the future of Europe in other regional capitals with topics ranging from "environmental protection and climate change" to "social  Europe", "Europe in the world", and others.

The next event is scheduled to take place in Sarajevo in January 2020.

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
Dialogue Southeast Europe

Kupreška 20, 71000 Sarajevo
Bosnia and Herzegovina

+387 33 711 540
+387 33 711 541

info(at)fes-soe.org

Publications

Political Trends and Dynamics: Chinese Soft Power in Southeast Europe

China has “arrived” in Southeast Europe. Beijing’s assertive new foreign policy, the hallmark of President Xi Jinping’s six year reign as the...

Read more

Irregular migration and smuggling of migrants along the Balkan route 2011-2017

The research report identifies, documents and analyses patterns and characteristics of irregular migration in thirteen states along the so-called...

Read more

European Cohesion: Progress at a Snail's Pace

Both Europe-wide inequality and the at-risk-of-poverty rate again fell slightly from 2016 to 2017. This was largely due to the strong growth in the...

Read more