The EU enlargement environment is generally unfavorable. Political message that there is no enlargement for the next five years is not encouraging. There is a different negotiation technique required in comparison with the earlier times (more chapters, interim benchmarks, equilibrium clause and additional emphasis on economic criteria). The region itself is facing continuous domestic obstacles on its way to the EU integration: internal disagreements and accession fatigue; reforms which have to be accelerated and consolidated; democratic foundations in some of the countries remain fragile; lack of good governance, in particular in the economic field; frequent ethnic turmoil. Better communication and advocacy strategy could help both the EU and WB to highlight key successes and laggings in the enlargement process and provide synergy in supporting higher motivation of the pro-European forces in the WB societies and better perception of the region in the EU.
The project aim is to develop the advocacy strategy for the Western Balkan countries, which would facilitate the EU enlargement towards this region and make it faster and more efficient.
WB and V4 partner organizations will develop a methodology; analyze relevant sources of information; interview different stakeholders and beneficiaries in the two regions and beyond; make overview of the good practice in advocating accession to the EU in the V4; develop an advocacy strategy for further enlargement to the WB region. The common strategy will also have national chapters and practical guidelines to be offered to the project beneficiaries. They will be involved in the drafting process through wide communication and thematic workshops testing the feasibility of the model and practical solutions proposed by the project team. Project team meetings will provide opportunity for the brainstorming, agreement on documentation to be used, comparison of research results and fine tuning of the final document.
The final document - advocacy strategy - will be widely promoted in the countries of origin of the project partners, but also in the other WB countries and in Brussels with participation of 2-3 members of the project team at each event. Promotional events will be organized with particular efforts to involve media and think tanks in commenting and assessing the final result of this project and its usefulness for further enlargement. Electronic and/or printed versions of the advocacy strategy will be disseminated to the target groups/beneficiaries.
Target audience: EU institutions and member countries, numerous regional organizations and initiatives in the Western Balkans and South East Europe, international organizations, think tanks and donors.
Groups benefiting from the project: National administrations in the Western Balkans, their parliaments, state agencies, chambers of commerce, councils of foreign investors, private business associations, PR companies, relevant think tanks, academic institutions, media, non-governmental organizations, experts and their associations, students as well as numerous regional organizations and initiatives in the Western Balkans and South East Europe.
The project team has developed two major documents so far: Advocacy Strategy for the EU Integration of the Western Balkans - Guidelines and the National Chapters of the Western Balkan and Visegrad Group Countries. The overarching message is that the enlargement has been put on hold and that a strong lobby for the Western Balkans is needed more than ever before.
In addition, the internet portal has been created - www.wb6.info. The portal provides (positive) information about regional cooperation, reforms, accession and the importance of the Western Balkans for the EU and it offers a sizable database of publications and documents about the Western Balkans.
The first launch of the Advocacy Strategy for the EU Integration of the Western Balkans took place in Brussels on 29 November 2016. The promotional events will take place in all the countries that participate in the project. The Budapest presentation will take place at CEU on 30 January 2017.