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Friday 8 June 2018

The Berlin Process on its way to the London Summit

This presentation followed and built on SEESOX’s research, seminars and workshops on the Berlin Process including, among others, a panel discussion in Oxford on 14 February, and a day workshop held in Thessaloniki on 16 March in cooperation with the British Embassy in Athens.

David Madden commented that 2018 was the year of the Western Balkans. In January the House of Lords published their report. On 6 February the European Commission set out their enlargement perspective for the region. This included specific initiatives, an action plan, and even an indicative date- 2025: though certain member states did not favour enlargement, and there were opposition to importing bilateral disputes. In July London will host the annual Summit of the Process. The Process had been launched in 2014. Back then, Chancellor Merkel was concerned by Russian action in the Crimea, socio-economic unrest in the Balkans, and protests in Bosnia-Herzegovina; and launched the initiative whereby a group of member states would focus on the region, and revitalise the waning process of European integration. The core agenda was economic connectivity, regional cooperation and civil society (the UK wished to concentrate also on security). It had got the largest countries of the EU involved, and ensured an annual focus on the priorities for the Western Balkans. But some questioned the inclusion of the UK and Poland next year, and the exclusion of some neighbouring South East European states.

The Berlin Process and the London Summit

SEESOX held events in Oxford, Thessaloniki and London in advance of the London Summit on 10/11 July.

On 14 February, we had a panel discussion in Oxford on “The Berlin Process: a bridge between the Western Balkans and the EU?” Tobias Flessenkemper considered the Process as a response to the brakes put on EU accession; Goran Svilanović its positive contribution to enhanced intraregional cooperation; Spyros Economides the need to look beyond “hard” security to developmental issues as a foundation for reconciliation and defence against organised crime and corruption; James Ker-Lindsay the limited relevance of the UK to the region outside any security agenda; Andrew Page to confirm the UK’s strong interest in stability in the region and its relevance to the UK’s national security agenda; and Marika Djolai underlining the welcome growing involvement and centrality of civil society in the Process.