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Policy Contribution

The Western Balkans on the road to the European Union

Given its geographical location, the region is important to the EU in terms of security, stability, trade and transit routes. The Western Balkan countries’ economic and political prospects and their future within a European framework should remain one of the top priorities for the EU.

By: and Date: February 22, 2018 Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

In the 1990s, the Western Balkan region suffered from severe conflicts, which ended after intervention by United Nations and NATO forces and with the promise of accession to the European Union. In the early and mid-2000s, the prospect of EU accession and the global boom facilitated rapid economic recovery in the Western Balkans and boosted economic and institutional reforms. However, the global financial crisis of 2007-09 and the European crisis of 2010-13 slowed the pace of economic growth and amplified high unemployment. In addition, various unresolved legacies from past conflicts slowed the pace of reform and progress towards EU accession.

The European Commission in February 2018 set an indicative deadline (2025) for admission to the EU of the two most advanced candidates – Serbia and Montenegro. This could incentivise all Western Balkan countries, including those candidates that have not yet started membership negotiations (Macedonia and Albania) and those waiting for candidate status (Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo), to remove domestic political obstacles to EU accession, solve conflicts with neighbours, speed up reforms and accelerate economic growth.

The European Union and its member states must not overlook the strategic importance of the Western Balkan region. Geographically, Western Balkan countries form a land bridge and the shortest transit route between the south-east flank of the EU and its central European core. The importance of this transit route was demonstrated during the 2015-16 refugee crisis. Furthermore, Western Balkan economies are already closely integrated with the EU. The EU is their largest trade partner, largest source of incoming foreign investment and other financial flows, and the main destination for outward migration.

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Blog Post

Ukraine: trade reorientation from Russia to the EU

Over the past five years conflict has led to a deterioration of Russo-Ukrainian economic relations while ties with the EU have been deepened. This shift is evident in trade flows: the European Union has become Ukraine’s biggest trading partner, while China is poised to overtake Russia as its second. Natural gas imports from Russia, Ukraine’s prior Achilles heel, have been partially replaced by reverse deliveries from the EU and reduced as result of reform of the gas sector.

By: Marek Dabrowski, Marta Domínguez-Jiménez and Georg Zachmann Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 13, 2020
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Past Event

Past Event

Redefining Europe's role after the COVID-19 pandemic

Amidst COVID-19: how to keep markets integrated when states play a bigger role in the EU and its neighbourhood?

Speakers: Gabriele Bischoff, John Erik Fossum, Kalypso Nicolaïdis and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: June 25, 2020
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Blog Post

Has COVID-19 dented the EU’s credibility in the Balkans?

Muddled initial reactions to the COVID-19 crisis tarnished the EU’s image in the Western Balkans. Europe should not take for granted the extent of its influence over its backyard in the face of Chinese and Russian charm offensives.

By: Aliénor Cameron and Michael Leigh Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 15, 2020
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Blog Post

One last push is needed to improve the Just Transition Fund proposal

The European Parliament and the Council still have an opportunity to improve the Just Transition Fund by refocusing it on social support and basing fund allocations on more granular information that takes into account not only countries’ needs but also their green ambitions.

By: Aliénor Cameron, Grégory Claeys, Catarina Midões and Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 11, 2020
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External Publication

EU-China trade and investment relations in challenging times

In this report, we have focused on trade and investment relations and have not attempted to define the many other policy instruments that the EU can and should pursue to increase its leverage towards China, and to protect its domestic economy while boosting domestic investment and trade.

By: Alicia García-Herrero, Guntram B. Wolff, Jianwei Xu, Niclas Poitiers, Gabriel Felbermayr, Rolf J. Langhammer, Wan-Hsin Liu and Alexander Sandkamp Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: June 4, 2020
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Opinion

COVID-19 and India: economic impact and response

This piece was published the day before India imposed one of the world's strictest lockdowns in its response to the COVID-19 response. It remains relevant in assessing the government's actions in the ten weeks that have since passed.

By: Suman Bery Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: May 27, 2020
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Past Event

Past Event

The Sound of Economics Live: Rebooting Europe - a framework for post COVID-19 economic recovery

Mapping out the post COVID-19 recovery.

Speakers: Maria Demertzis, Giuseppe Porcaro, Simone Tagliapietra and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: May 15, 2020
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Past Event

Past Event

Democracy in the times of COVID-19 with Věra Jourová

How can Europe uphold its democratic values while fighting COVID-19?

Speakers: Sam Fleming, Věra Jourová and Michael Leigh Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: May 14, 2020
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Policy Brief

Rebooting Europe: a framework for a post COVID-19 economic recovery

COVID-19 has triggered a severe recession and policymakers in European Union countries are providing generous, largely indiscriminate, support to companies. As the recession gets deeper, a more comprehensive strategy is needed. This should be based on four principles: viability of supported entities, fairness, achieving societal goals, and giving society a share in future profits. The effort should be structured around equity and recovery funds with borrowing at EU level.

By: Julia Anderson, Simone Tagliapietra and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: May 13, 2020
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Past Event

Past Event

What help is needed for the EU neighbourhood to come through the COVID-19 crisis?

At this event European Commissioner Várhelyi and EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti will discuss what Europe is doing to help it's neighbourhood respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

Speakers: Sir Suma Chakrabarti, Maria Demertzis and Olivér Várhelyi Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Global Economics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: May 12, 2020
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Past Event

Past Event

Keeping trade open during and after Covid-19

This event examines the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on open markets and connected supply chains globally.

Speakers: Maria Demertzis, André Sapir, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham and Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: April 30, 2020
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Blog Post

EU trade in medical goods: why self-sufficiency is the wrong approach

As countries are struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, shortages in medical equipment led to EU export controls and war-time like procurement of respirators. While the crisis is still unfolding, there is a debate on whether the EU is too reliant on global value chains for medical goods. Looking at the world market of medical goods for the EU, we argue that self-sufficiency is the wrong approach. Global medical markets are to the benefits of the EU and stockpiling and preparation are more effective in preparing for emergencies.

By: Sybrand Brekelmans and Niclas Poitiers Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: April 14, 2020
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