Workshop on EU Enlargement

posted by Katalin Teller on 2008/12/10 15:11

[ Workshop ]

Arolda Elbasani (Freie Universität Berlin) and Ridvan Peshkopia (University of Kentucky) are organizing a workshop from 5th to 6th of February, 2009 in Berlin, entitled EU Enlargement and Institutional Reforms in Southeast Europe. Deadline for submitting abstracts is December 22, 2008.

Research Topic and Focus
At the turn of more than one decade of violent and uncertain transitions, the EU has envisaged a new vision for the Balkans - it promises to transform those countries into stable, self-sufficient democracies, at peace with themselves and each other, with market economies and the rule of law, and which will be either members of the EU or on the road to membership. This ambitious project builds on a new strategy - the Stabilization and Association Process (SAP) - which for the first time comprises the prospect of European membership and outlines the tools of achieving that for all the countries in the Western Balkans (WB). The SAP is largely modelled on the EU enlargement framework in other Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC). Yet, it reflects the widespread conviction that the Western Balkans face different challenges and hence must be treated under a particular framework tailored to their situation. As such, the SAP borrows from, but also invents against the pool of instruments used to make candidate countries fit for membership - most notably assistance, political dialogue, and conditionality. Those instruments are employed via a gradual frame of contractual relations up to the final goal of membership.

All target countries in the Balkans are now involved at different stages of the process. The SAP has progressively turned into a major strategy around which other policy initiatives are thought and elaborated. Moreover, it has become a word of faith among both political actors and people in the region, who have long opted to integrate into the EU structures. The SAP has, thus, created high expectations for change, which are further nourished by the strong assumption on the EU transformative power in the previous wave of enlargement in the post-communist area. The workshop aims to explore whether and to what extent the SAP has fostered the promised transformation in the target countries, focusing on institutional change in different areas of democratisation processes.

Studying the EU impact on institutional reform in the WB will draw the discussion to the already bourgeoning literature on the effects of EU enlargement in the CEEC. This fact bears, on the one hand, the ease of walking on already elaborated grounds and, on the other, the challenge of exploring the idiosyncrasies of the SAP countries. The abundant research on the EU enlargement in the CEEC has tried to resolve the epistemological and ontological aspects of the phenomena. The theoretical approaches employed thus far engage a wide range of perspectives from methodological individualism to structuralism to social constructivism to attempts of bridge-building among them. In addition, different scholars have studied the problem from both the domestic as well as Brussels' perspectives. More recent accounts that build on institutionalist frameworks, come with the promise of, first, bridging the gap between the rational choice approach and social constructivism; and second, bringing domestic politics back in. The empirical research has also benefited from a wide range of methods including case studies, cross-country qualitative analysis, time-series statistical analysis and game theory.

In the Balkans context, the discussion of EU enlargement needs to be tackled in a bifurcated manner. First, there is the need for research on SAP to be embedded in and make better use of the existing literature on EU enlargement and the mechanisms that might have a bearing on institutional reform. This is more so as studies on the Balkans lack both comparative analysis and depth of research, when compared to the bourgeoning literature on the EU relations with the CEEC. Few studies, so far, have explored the distinguished features of this new policy framework tailored to the region and its overall potential for realizing the promised path-breaking transformation. Second, case studies from the Balkans would enrich the literature on EU enlargement itself. They might help in elucidating some of its lingering dark spots with regard to domestic impact - how do we measure the effect of EU mechanisms on the EU membership aspiring countries? What are the areas where the EU was successful or not? Which of the instruments were more effective to foster democratisation? And, how has this worked in the Balkans where the EU faced particularly challenging conditions? Various case studies would help us to look for the effects of EU mechanisms in the right places, time and areas.

Paper Submissions
By combining theoretical propositions and empirical tests, our workshop will represent an effort to answer some of the above questions. Our main focus is comparative and/or case studies from the Western Balkans and the wider Balkan region. While interested in wider issues of enlargement, we explicitly seek papers that address theoretical debates and/offer comparative perspectives to questions of EU enlargement driven institutional change in the Balkans. The call for abstracts is addressed to academics of various sub-disciplines such as comparative politics, international relations, law, political theory, and public policy. Yet, we also welcome submissions from practitioners and policy-makers, whose work can bring rich empirical insights and increase our understanding of institutional reforms in the region.

We invite submission of proposals for papers on any of the following themes.

  1. conceptual papers on EU conditionality and other enlargement instruments;
  2. the content and application of EU enlargement instruments in the Balkan region;
  3. implementation and impact on various areas of institutional change.

Short Guidelines for the abstract: A 300 word abstract in English which outlines the research question, argument, methodology, and expected findings.

Notification of Accepted Papers: 9 January, 2009

Send your abstracts and direct inquires to: Ridvan Peshkopia and Alexander Kleibrink.

Organization and Outcomes of the Workshop
In addition to the call for proposals we will invite scholars from the region or with academic interests on the region to participate in the debate with either conceptual or empirical research. We intend to have around 15 papers. All participants will have their expenses covered including a two round trip to Berlin, accommodation as well as meals for all the duration of the workshop. Afterwards, we plan to coauthor a conclusive draft highlighting the achievements of the workshop and the avenues it helped to open for further research. Finally, we plan to publish the research presented in the workshop as an edited book.


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