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Policy Dialogue
The EU and the Balkans: In pursuit of economic convergence

Thursday, 07 July 2016

Financial and economic crises in the EU have taken a heavy toll on the fragile Balkan economies since 2009, severely undermining the promise of convergence between the region and EU member states. In response, the European Commission began in 2013 to consider economic governance a fundamental pillar of the EU’s enlargement strategy. This approach reflects efforts to strengthen economic policy monitoring and multilateral surveillance under the European Semester within the EU and seeks to provide targeted policy guidance for the Balkan countries’ own national Economic Reform Programmes. These programmes outline macroeconomic and fiscal policy frameworks, as well as structural reform plans to boost competitiveness and long-term growth.

Now that the Commission’s assessment of the Balkan countries’ Economic Reform Programmes (ERPs) for 2016-2018 are out, what is the economic state of affairs in the region and the main priorities on the to-do list? Will the new approach improve economic governance in the region? What do the Balkan aspirants make of the Commission’s initiative? Does the new approach draw on or add to the EU acquis and the already enhanced conditionality for membership? How does it fit with other endeavours, including the Connectivity Agenda of the Berlin Process or the South East Europe 2020 Strategy of the Regional Cooperation Council? These and other questions were debated during this EPC Dialogue.

Speakers included: Corina Stratulat, Senior Policy Analyst, European Policy Centre (EPC); Andreas Papadopoulos, Special Advisor, DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, European Commission; Uwe Stamm, Head of Unit for the enlargement countries, DG Economic and Financial Affairs, European Commission; Birgitte Bjørnbak, Vice-President of the Economic Policy Committee and Chief Advisor in the International Economics Department, Ministry of Finance, Denmark; Milovan Filimonović, State Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Serbia; Dušan Reljić, Head of the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP)’s Brussels office

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