From September 2022 to June 2023, European Policy Center (CEP – Belgrade) and the Center for European Political Studies (CEPS – Brussels) will implement a project entitled “Support for the further development of the model of staged accession of the Western Balkans to the European Union;“.
The essence of the project is to focus on the implementation the step-by-step membership modelco-designed by CEP Belgrade And CEPS Brussels. Initially published As of October 2021, the model has so far inspired numerous pan-European debates and gained support from various members of the expert community as well as policy makers. Although this project has had a promising start, it has yet to receive recognition from European institutions and wider support from EU member states. Finding consensus on such an original solution becomes all the more justified at a time when the Russian invasion of Ukraine has highlighted the need for the EU to fully embrace the Western Balkans and consolidate its geopolitical footprint In the region. In order to achieve a breakthrough and overcome the status quo, this project aims to further contribute to the development of a fully robust and operational model of phased accession to the EU. In order to achieve the set objective, the project will support the research and analysis necessary to develop a series of 14 thematic papers address issues identified as weaknesses and gaps in the Model, based on feedback obtained from stakeholders during initial advocacy efforts led by the partner organizations that designed the Model. Therefore, the following thematic documents will be developed:
- Six (6) discussion papers on the potential application of the phased accession model in each of the countries of the regionwith a focus on the political and economic specificities of each WB country, the potential dynamics of implementation at the national level, stakeholder analysis, as well as analysis of opportunities and risks that should be taken taken into account in the context of the potential application of the model.
- Analysis and visual presentation of how the new model fits into the revised (2020) EU enlargement methodology.
- A discussion paper on the legal implications and requirements of implementing the tiered membership model.
- A discussion paper on the options, opportunities and implications of introducing elements of advanced political integration (how it combines with the tiered membership model).
- A thematic paper on the financial implications of the staged accession model on the EU budget, as well as on the budgets of the acceding countries..
- A discussion paper on the financing instruments, modalities, capacities and conditionalities to be applied.
- A discussion paper on the tiered accession model in relation to regional cooperation initiatives (mainly regarding the Berlin process and the regional common market, as well as the links with the Open Balkans initiative).
- A discussion paper on the governance of the new model, with an emphasis on reversibility mechanisms.
- A thematic paper on the management of bilateral disputes between EU member states and acceding countries and the role of regional reconciliation in the application of the new model.
The development of thematic documents is a key element of the project, which should enable the full development of the step-by-step membership model 2.0 and present its application in practice.
During its implementation, the core team will also rely on the valuable expertise of leading regional researchers, as well as individual members of the Think for Europe (TEN) network, such as European Policy Institute (ENP – Skopje), Alternative Institute (IA – Podgorica), and Bosnia and Herzegovina Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI BH – Sarajevo).
The project is financed by the Open Society Foundations (OSF).